Heatstroke occurs when your body temperature rises rapidly and you’re unable to cool down. Heatstroke occurs when your body temperature rise to 104 F (40° C) or higher. This is most common in the month of summer. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment otherwise it can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complication or death. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency that can be avoided by following simple prevention measures. Older people, young children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with heart disease, high blood pressure or lung disease are most at risk. During hot weather, drink plenty of water, stay cool indoors or in the shade and restrict activity, especially exercise, renovating and gardening.
Risk of heatstroke
- People over 65 years, particularly those living alone or without air conditioning
Babies and young children
- Pregnant and nursing mothers
- People who have existing medical conditions, especially those who have heart disease, high blood pressure or lung disease.
Heatstroke may appear similar to heat exhaustion, but the skin may be dry with no sweating and the person’s mental condition worsens. They may stagger, appear confused, fit, collapse and become unconscious
- Very High Body temperature
- Red, hot and dry skin
- Dry swollen Tongue
- Rapid heart pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness, confusion and irritation
- Eventual unconsciousness
When to see a doctor in heatstroke
- If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediately medical help. Call emergency service number for medical help.
- Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
- Get the person into shade or indoors Remove excess clothing
- Cool the person with whatever means available – put in cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.
Causes of Heatstroke
Factors which can cause heatstroke and heat related illness including:
- Dehydration – Our body temperatures needs to stay around 37° C. The body cools itself by sweating, which normally accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the body’s heat loss. If a person become dehydrated then they don’t sweat as much and their body temperature keep rising. Dehydration may happen after strenuous exercise, severe diarrhea or vomiting drinking too much alcohol, taking certain medication and not drinking enough water.
- Lack of airflow – Working in hot, poorly ventilated an confined areas.
- Sun Exposure – In hot day between between 11:30 am to 4:00 pm.
- Hot and crowded Condition – people attending large events in hot or crowded condition may also experience heatstroke which can result in illness.
- Bush-fires – Exposures to radiant heat and from bush-fires can cause rapid dehydration and heat related illness. Bush-fires usually occurs when the temperature is high which adds to the risk.
- 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 temperature.
Complication from Heatstroke
- Heatstroke can result in a number of complications, depending on how long the body temperature is high.
- Vital organ damage – Without a quick response to lower body temperature, heatstroke can cause your brain or other vital organs to swell, possibly resulting in permanent damage.
- Death – Without prompt and adequate treatment, heatstroke can be fatal.
Heatstroke can cause organ damage or Death
Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40.5° C and the body’s internal systems starts to shut down. Normally, sweating helps to maintain a health body temperature by increasing heat loss through evaporation. When a person becomes concentrated and they do not sweat as much, their blood becomes concentrated and organ functioning is impaired.
Many organs in the body can suffer tissue damage and the body temperature must be reduce quickly. Most people will have profound central nervous system changes such as delirium, com and seizures. As well as effects on the nervous system, there can be liver, kidney, muscle and heart damage.
Prevention from Heatstroke
- Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly.
- Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use 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.
- Take extra precaution with certain medications. Be on the lookout heat-related problems if you take medications that can affects your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
- Exercise at cooler parts of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Make you schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
- Eat small meals more often and cold meals such as salad.
- Stay cool and keep air circulated around you. Draw your blinds or curtains and use a fan or air conditioning if possible.
What to do in heatstroke
- Call medical
- While waiting for emergency medical help, get the person to a cool shady place area and lay them down.
- Remove excess clothing and wet their skin with water or wrap in wet cloths, fanning continuously.
- Do not give the person fluids to drink.
Position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway.
- Monitor their body temperature where possible and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops below 38° C.
- Wait for the ambulance to urgently transport the person to hospital, where more intensive and support can be given.
- If medical attention is delayed, seek further instruction from ambulance or hospital emergency staff.