It’s summer again, and we all ought to start getting ready for heat stroke.
Despite how the movies make them out to be, heat stroke is one of the most severe effects of being exposed to the sun or high temperatures for too long. That is why you will never see a rally without medics on standby, because rallies are done in the day, and people are prone to heat strokes.
When you get struck with a heat stroke, your situation is considered a medical emergency. So, if and when you do experience heat stroke and no medic is around to help you, it helps if you know a body of knowledge about the symptoms, causes, and treatment for this kind of condition.
This article is going to give you a rundown of all the essential details that will help you prevent and manage heat stroke. So, keep on reading.
How Heatstroke Happens
So, you might wonder: how does heat stroke happen? You walk in the sun every day. Why does staying out a little more than usual suddenly lead to a heat stroke?
First, you must understand that your body is already warm at normal temperatures. It creates heat, to be more exact. The reason you don’t burn up or get a heat stroke is that you sweat the heat off. So, the heat that you create goes through your built-in exhaust fan and out of your body.
When your body gets exposed to the sun longer than the right amount, your natural cooling system sometimes fails. So, not only is your body naturally creating heat, the heat from the sun penetrates your skin, therefore, causing overheating. Such overheating can eventually affect your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.
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Data shows that most of the people who get affected by heatstroke are people who are over 50 years old, young athletes, and people with chronic diseases.
You may also be at risk if you don’t drink enough water or are a heavy drinker. And, surprisingly, if you take any antihistamines, diet pills, diuretics, sedatives, tranquillizers, stimulants, seizure medications (anticonvulsants), heart and blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers and vasoconstrictors, and medications for psychiatric illnesses such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, you might be prone to heat strokes as well.
If you notice the signs of heat stroke and yet refuse or delay getting medical attention, the risk of the damage worsening heightens. That said, make sure to treat your heatstroke symptoms as an emergency situation.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Now, that you know that heat stroke is an emergency situation, you might be asking: what then are the signs that I should be on the lookout for?
Body temperature going beyond 104 F (40 C) is a surefire sign of heat stroke. You can use a normal body thermometer to measure your core body temperature.
Changed Mental State or Behaviour
Another sign you might be having a heatstroke is if you are experiencing confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and/or coma.
Hot weather is going to make your skin hot and dry to the touch. Heat stroke brought on by a strenuous activity is going to make your skin dry and slightly moist.
You’re also going to experience feeling sick to your stomach and have urges to vomit.
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Because your skin is going to be hotter than usual, it might become slightly red or pinkish if you have a heatstroke.
You know you have heatstroke if you also notice your breathing becoming rapid and shallow.
When you get heatstroke, you might also notice your heartbeat going faster than normal.
You might also notice your head throbbing when you have heatstroke, so watch out for that too.
When you notice any of these signs, oftentimes, they’re not going to occur all at once. They’re going to happen in progression. Usually, they start off as heat cramps, then fainting, and then heat exhaustion. But, there are rare occasions when individuals experience heatstroke right off the bat.
Heatstroke First Aid
As mentioned earlier, heat stroke is considered an emergency situation. So, if you experience or you witness another person experiencing the aforementioned symptoms or signs, call the emergency hotline right away.
While you wait for the paramedics to arrive, you can start applying some first aid to help relieve you of the symptoms you’re feeling.
The first thing you do is to get yourself into a cool environment, whether that’s just leaving and going near a tree where there is a shade or going into an air-conditioned room.
Then, remove pieces of clothing that contribute to the heat.
Next is to try cooling strategies to help bring your temperature down. Here are some that you can try:
Find anything you can use to fan yourself
Get any piece of cloth and wet it. Then, apply it all over your body to get some moisture in
If you find any ice packs around, use that too.
If you are anywhere near a residence where there is a tub, immerse yourself in it with cold water (CAUTION: This advice is not to be applied to old patients, young children, patients with chronic illness, or patients who did not go through any vigorous exercise and just had a heatstroke. Consequences may be severe.)
If the emergency unit you called takes too long to arrive, you can ask your companion for a lift or book one yourself, and get yourself to the closest emergency room. Your nurses will start off by rehydrating you and then replacing your electrolytes through an IV.
How to Prevent Heat Stroke
The best way to beat heat stroke is to be ahead of it. Don’t wait for the first signs before you do anything. Below are some of the tips you might want to try before going out in the prickling sun:
If you’re going to a place where you know you’ll be exposed to the sun for the majority of the time, wear something light and comfortable. Opt for breezy fabrics and loose-fitting clothes.
And, this may seem weird, but avoid dark colours, as they can attract heat. So, go for light-coloured pieces instead. You want protection for your head too, so go for a wide-brimmed hat. Anything that is light to wear on the head is good.
Or King if you’re a he. Regardless if you are leaving your house or not, applying sunscreen is very important. Sunscreen can help protect our skin from UV radiation which is just everywhere.
Image source: iStock
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Dehydration is one of the factors causing heatstroke. So, if you want to avoid getting one, you better get some fluids in your body. If you’re an athlete, you are prone to heat strokes, so you might want to drink water instead of electrolyte-rich sports drinks to avoid salt depletion. Salt depletion can also lead to heat illnesses.
If you are planning on going to an outdoor activity, make sure to check the weather forecasts. Cancel plans if the day you scheduled them is prone to heat waves. Reschedule them on cloudy days instead.
You can also watch out for signs of dehydration. Checking your urine is the simplest way to tell. Darker urine means you’re dehydrated. So, drink up when that pee turns a dark yellow.
As temperatures rise on the island, make sure you’re always prepared whenever you’re going outdoors. If you think you may be experiencing the signs of heat stroke, do not hesitate to ask for help right away.
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