Heatstroke


Heatstroke is your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. Heatstroke can require emergency treatment, as untreated it can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.

Symptoms

  • High body temperature. Of 104 F (40 C) or higher,

  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.

  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, if brought on by strenuous exercise, skin may feel dry or slightly moist.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Flushed skin.

  • Rapid breathing.

  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.

  • Headache. Your head may throb.

Risk Factors

(other than the obvious, exertion in hot weather, and lack of air conditioning)

  • Medications. Be especially careful if you take medications that narrow your blood vessels (vasoconstrictors), regulate your blood pressure by blocking adrenaline (beta blockers), rid your body of sodium and water (diuretics), or reduce psychiatric symptoms (antidepressants or antipsychotics).

Stimulants for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and illegal stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine also make you more vulnerable to heatstroke.

  • Health Conditions. Certain 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 previous heatstroke.

Prevention

Take these steps to prevent heatstroke during hot weather:

  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing.

  • Protect against sunburn. Wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.

  • Never leave anyone (people or pets) in a parked car. The temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.

  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can't avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.

  • Get acclimated. Limit time spent working or exercising in heat until you're conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.

  • Be cautious if you're at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.

Remedies / 1st Aid

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 notice signs of heat-related illness, lower your body temperature to prevent your condition from progressing. In a lesser heat emergency, such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, the following steps may lower your body temperature:

  • Get to a shady or air-conditioned place. If you don't have air conditioning at home, go someplace with air conditioning, such as the mall, movie theater or public library.

  • Cool off with damp sheets and a fan. If you're with someone, cool them by covering with damp sheets or spraying with cool water. Direct the fan towards them. **Women ~ run your sports bras under the tap to dampen, put it in the freezer, once frozen (& you’re in need) put ‘em on to cool yourself super-fast!**

  • Take a cool shower or bath.

  • Rehydrate. You lose salt through sweating, replenish with sports drinks.

(It's not recommended that you drink sugary or alcoholic beverages to rehydrate. )

#heatstroke #overheating #sunstroke #heatexhaustion

© 2013-14 by Marni MacDonald, RMT. 

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