Overview of Heat Stroke
Heat Stroke is a severe form of hyperthermia that happens when the body is experiencing an elevated temperature. This heat injury is a medical emergency and if not properly treated can be fatal.
Causes of Heat Stroke
The following are the reasons why heat stroke occur:
1. Hot Environment
Non-Exertional Heat Stroke or the classic heat stroke happens because of too much exposure to a hot environment. Staying in a hot climate can result in a rise in temperature of the body. Usually, it occurs after exposure to hot and humid weather for an extended period.
2. Strenuous Activities
Because of the intense physical activity in hot weather that causes an increase body temperature, an exertional heat stroke occurs. Usually, if a person is not used to the high temperature, this happens.
3. Excess Clothing
Some conditions of heat stroke is a result of wearing excessive clothing. It prevents the sweat from evaporating efficiently as well as cooling the body.
Drinking alcohol affects the body's ability in regulating the temperature of the body.
Being dehydrated because of failure to drink enough water leads to failure in replenishing the fluids lost by the body through sweating.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke.
The signs and the symptoms of heat stroke may vary from different people. However, most of the signs and symptoms of heat stroke are typical. The heat stroke often includes agitation, confusion, disorientation, the absence of sweating, vomiting, and nausea. Other signs include fatigue, headache, weakness, aches, muscle cramps, and dizziness. Moreover, rapid pulse, breathing difficulty, hallucinations, seizure, and coma may occur.
Factors of Risk for Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is related to the heat index. It is a measurement of how a person feels at a combination of air temperature and relative humidity. In this matter, over 60% hampers sweat evaporation that results in the inability of the body to cool itself. The risk of illness increases when the heat index climbs up to more than 90 degrees.
It is typical for old people who are exposed to full sunshine and high temperature in their small homes without air conditioning system to experience heat stroke but people of any age who do not drink plenty of water, have a chronic disease, and drink excessive alcohol are also prone.
Some of the risk associated with heat stroke includes age, health conditions, and medications. Adults aging over 65 and children up to four years old are vulnerable to heat stroke because they slowly adjust to heat. Also several conditions of health such as lung, heart, obesity, kidney disease, underweight, mental illness, and high blood pressure. Even traits such as alcoholism and sunburn contribute to heat stroke. Some medications like diet pills, tranquilizers, antihistamines, stimulants, anticonvulsants, medicines for heart disease and blood pressure, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Moreover, illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are as well increase the risk of heat stroke.
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke
At times when the heat index elevates, it is always best to stay in an air-conditioned environment to cool or go to a place with fresh air and not crowded. In any situation that there is a need to go outdoor despite the high heat index, prevent heat stroke by following these tips:
Tip 1. Only wear lightweight and light-colored clothing, if possible use loose-fitting clothes. Do not forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Tip 2. Use a sunscreen cream for protection against the rays of the sun. Choose that with Sun Protection Factor or SPF 30 or higher.
Tip 3. Drink water at least eight glasses. Take fruit juices or vegetable juices a day.
Tip 4. When exercising or working outdoors, take additional precautions. It is recommended to drink at least 24 ounces of fluids two hours before the exercise. Eight ounces of a sports drink or water right before the activity is helpful to prevent heat stroke. While exercising, consume another eight ounces of water in every 20 minutes.
Tip 5. If possible, make the time for outdoor activities during the most cooling times of the day such as early in the morning or during sunset.
Tip 6. Check the color of urine because darker urine indicates dehydration. Always drink enough water to maintain light colored-urine.
Tip 7. As much as possible avoid fluids that contain alcohol or caffeine because these substances can make the health problem worse and can lose more fluids.
Tip 8. If the house has no fans or air conditioning, spend at least two hours daily in a cool place. Also, draw the curtains and shades during the hottest times of the day. Also, open the windows to create proper ventilation.
Tip 9. If you suspect that you or a person is experiencing a heat stroke, seek immediate medical help. Get Med! Make the person feels cool with whatever means available while waiting for medical assistance such as a refreshing shower, a spray of cold water, get a fan, place ice packs on the forehead, or lets the person be in shade or indoor. Also, remove excess clothing.