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Heatstroke is a condition produced by your body overheating, generally as a result of lengthened exposure to or physical exertion in high heats. This most severe form of heat injury, heatstroke, can happen if your body temperature increases to 104 F (40 C) or higher. The ailment is most prevalent in the summer months.
Heatstroke typically demands immediate emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. The damage worsens the more extended treatment is postponed, raising your risk of severe complications or death.
Heatstroke symptoms and signs encompass:
- Excessively high body temperature. Having a core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, taken with a rectal thermometer, is the principal indication of heatstroke.
- Confused mental state or behavior. Agitation, confusion, slurred speech, hallucination, irritation, fever, convulsions, and coma are possible outcomes from heatstroke.
- Changes in sweat production. Hot weather-induced heatstroke, your skin will have dry and hot and to the touch. However, in heatstroke from strenuous exercise, your skin may exhibit moistness or dryness.
- Vomiting and nausea. You may have the feeling of needing to vomit and being sick on your stomach.
- Flushed skin. Your skin may become red as your body temperature rises from the excessive heat.
- Accelerated breathing. Your breathing may become shorted with shallow and rapid breaths
- Accerlated heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
- A headache. Your head may throb.
When to see a doctor
If you think someone may be experiencing heat stroke, seek emergency medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency number.
Take prompt action to cool the heated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
Eliminate excess clothing
Get the person into the shade or indoors.
Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, sponge with cool water, spray with a garden hose, place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin or fan while misting with cool water.
Heatstroke can occur as a result of:
- Exposure to a hot environment. In a type of heatstroke, referred to as nonexertional (classic) heatstroke, being in a heated environment commences an increase in core body temperature. This kind of heatstroke generally occurs after exposure to humid, hot weather, particularly for prolonged periods. It happens most often in older adults and people with chronic illness.
- Strenuous activity. Exertional heatstroke is produced by growth in core body temperature brought on by intense physical activity or exercise in hot weather. Anyone working or exercising in hot weather can exertional heatstroke, but it’s most likely to happen if you’re not used to high temperatures.
In either type of heatstroke, your condition can be brought on by:
- Drinking alcohol, which can affect your body’s ability to regulate your temperature
- Wearing excess clothing that prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body
- Drinking alcohol, which can affect your body’s ability to regulate your
- Not drinking adequate water to replenish fluids lost by sweating
Anyone can suffer heatstroke, but some factors increase your risk:
- Age. Your ability to cope with excessive heat is based off on the capacity of your central nervous system. In very young individuals, infants and children, the central nervous system is not completely formed, and in adults over the age of 65, the central nervous system begins to denigrate, which causes your body to be unable to cope with fluctuations in body temperature. Both age groups usually have difficulty staying hydrated, which also grows in risk.
- Exertion in hot weather. Military training and participating in sports, such as football or long-distance running events, in hot weather are among the situations that can lead to heatstroke.
Sudden exposure to hot weather. You could be more sensitive to heat-related illness if you’re exposed to a sudden increase in temperatures, such as during an early-summer heat wave or travel to a hotter climate. Limit exercise and activity for at least several days to allow yourself to acclimate to the change. However, you can still have a higher risk of heatstroke until you’ve experienced several weeks of higher temperatures.
- A lack of air conditioning. Fans may make you feel better, but during sustained hot weather, air conditioning is the most effective way to cool down and lower humidity.
- Certain medications. Some drugs impact your body’s ability to stay hydrated and respond to heat. Be especially cautious in hot weather if you take drugs that reduce your blood vessels (vasoconstrictors) control your blood pressure by ridding your body of sodium and water (diuretics), obstructing adrenaline (beta blockers), or lessen psychiatric symptoms (antipsychotics or antidepressants).
- Stimulants for hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit/ and illegal stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines also can put you at higher risk of heatstroke.
- Certain health conditions. Particular chronic illnesses, such as heart or lung disease, might increase your risk of heatstroke. So can being obese, being sedentary and having a history of the previous heatstroke.
Heatstroke can result in some complications, based on how long the body temperature is high. Severe complications include:
Vital organ damage. Lacking a quick response to lower body temperature, heatstroke can force your brain or other vital organs to inflame, potentially ending in permanent damage.
Death. Without timely and sufficient treatment, heatstroke can be fatal.
Heatstroke is preventable and predictable. Take these precautions to limit heatstroke during hot weather:
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool correctly.
- Guard yourself against sunburn. Sunburn impacts your body’s ability to cool itself off, to protect yourself when you are outside wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and continue every two hours — or more often if you’re sweating or doing anything with water, like swimming or.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will assist your body sweat and maintain normal body temperature.
- Take additional precautions with particular drugs. Be on the cognizant of heat-related problems if you take drugs that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
- Never leave someone within a parked vehicle. Sadly this a is a common reason for child heat-related deaths. When a vehicle is parked in the sun, frequently the temperature in your car can increase by 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) within just 10 minutes.
It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked, or the car is in the shade. When your car is parked, keep it locked to prevent a child from getting inside.
Take it easy during the warmest portions of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and frequently rest in a cool area. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
Get acclimated. Restrict time spent exercising or working in heat until you’re accustomed to it. Individuals who are not related to hot weather are particularly susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
Be careful if you’re at heightened risk. If you take medicines or have an ailment that raises your risk of heat-related complications, avoid the heat and act immediately if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you engage in a strenuous sporting competition or activity in sweltering hot weather, ensure there is medical assistance available in case of a heat emergency.
It’s normally clear to physicians if you have heatstroke. However, laboratory tests can establish the determination, exclude other explanations for your symptoms and evaluate the organs for damage. These tests include:
The rectal temperature to check your core body temperature. A rectal temperature is the most accurate way of determining your core body temperature and is more accurate than mouth or forehead temperatures.
- A blood test to check blood sodium or potassium and the content of gases in your blood to see if there’s been damage to your central nervous system.
- A urine test to check the color of your urine, because it’s usually darker if you have a heat-related condition, and to check your kidney function, which can be affected by heatstroke.
- Muscle function tests to check for serious damage to your muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis).
X-rays and other imaging tests to check for damage to your internal organs.
Heatstroke treatment centers on cooling your body to a normal temperature to prevent or reduce damage to your brain and vital organs. To do this, your doctor may take these steps:
Immerse you in cold water. A bath of cold or ice water has been proved to be the most effective way of quickly lowering your core body temperature. The quicker you can receive cold water immersion, the less risk of death and organ damage.
Use evaporation cooling techniques. If cold water immersion is unavailable, healthcare workers may try to lower your body temperature using an evaporation method. Cool water is misted on your body while warm air is fanned over you, causing the water to evaporate and cool your skin.
Pack you with ice and cooling blankets. Another approach is to wrap you in a special cooling blanket and apply ice packs to your groin, neck, back, and armpits to lower your temperature.
Give you medications to stop the agitations. If treatments to reduce your body temperature make you shiver, your physician may give you a muscle relaxant, such as a benzodiazepine. Shivering ups your body temperature, making treatment less effective.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Home treatment will not suffice for heatstroke. If you have signs or symptoms of heatstroke, search out emergency medical help. Others should take steps to cool you off while waiting for emergency help to arrive. Don’t drink any fluids while waiting for medical assistance.
If you have seen signs of heat-related illness, reduce your body temperature and stop your condition from advancing to heatstroke. In a minor heat emergency, such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, the subsequent steps may reduce your body temperature
- Get to an air-conditioned or shady place. – Out of the sun. If you don’t have air conditioning available in your home, go to a location with air conditioning, such as the public library, mall or movie theater.
- Place damp sheets and a fan across the body of the person with heat stroke. If you’re with someone who’s encountering heat-related symptoms, cool the person by wrapping him or her with damp sheets or by spraying with cool water. You should the fan pointed in the direction of sufferer so that they receive fresh air.
- Take a cool shower or bath. If you’re outside and are not around the shelter, soaking in a cool pond or stream can assist to reduce your temperature.
- Rehydrate. Drink plenty of fluids. Also, because you lose salt through sweating, you can bring water and salt with some sports drinks. If your physician has limited your fluid or salt intake, check with him or her to see how much you should drink and whether you should replace salt.
- Don’t drink sugary or alcoholic beverages to rehydrate. These drinks may interfere with your body’s ability to control your temperature. Also, very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps.