Are You At Risk Of Getting a Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is also called sunstroke and is the most severe form of hyperthermia, or heat-related illness. It is a life-threatening state that happens when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is generally the result of overexertion in hot, humid conditions. Warning signs can include confusion, seizures or loss of consciousness. Untreated, heatstroke can lead to organ failure, a coma or death. 

What are different types of heatstroke?

There are two types of heatstroke:

Exertional: It is usually the result of physical overexertion in hot, humid conditions. It can worsen in a few hours.

Non-exertional: It is called classic heatstroke; this type can occur due to age or underlying health situations. It tends to progress over several days.

Are heat fatigue and heat stroke the same thing?

Heat fatigue and heat stroke are both types of hyperthermia. Heat fatigue can develop into heat stroke if left untouched. Nevertheless, heat fatigue isn’t as severe as heatstroke, doesn’t cause neurological problems and usually isn’t life-threatening.

Who gets heatstroke?

Anybody can get heatstroke. However, infants and the elderly are at especially high risk because their bodies may not be able to adjust temperature efficiently. Sportspersons, militaries and people with occupations that require physical labour in hot atmospheres are also susceptible to heatstroke.

Other factors that upsurge your risk of heatstroke include:

  • Drinking alcohol.
  • Being male.
  • Being dehydrated.
  • Medicines that affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, or heart and blood pressure tablets.
  • Having certain illnesses that affect your ability to sweat, such as cystic fibrosis.
  • Having certain medical situations, such as a sleep disorder or problems with your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, thyroid or blood vessels.
  • Wearing heavy or tight clothing, such as protective gear.
  • Having a high fever.
  • Having obesity.
  • A past history of heatstroke.
  • Poor physical training or not being used to hot conditions.

What causes heatstroke?

This occurs when your body can’t cool itself down. Your hypothalamus, which is a part of your brain that controls many body functions, sets your core body temperature. It naturally sets your temperature at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, if your body takes in more heat than it issues, your internal temperature increases above this set-point.

What are the signs and indications of heatstroke?

Given below are the signs or symptoms of heatstroke:

  • dry skin that doesn’t sweat.
  • difficulties with movement and coordination.
  • Balance problems.
  • confusion or disorientation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Unnecessary sweating that continues after you’ve stopped exercising 
  • Burning, red skin or very pale skin.
  • Low or high blood pressure.
  • bubbling or gurgling sound in the lungs.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • low urine output.
  • Fast breathing or fast heart rate.
  • Seizures.
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness.
  • Weakness.

What are the possible problems of heatstroke?

Individuals with heatstroke can develop shock or slip into a coma. High body temperature can lead to:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
  • Brain swelling.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Liver failure.
  • Metabolic dysfunction.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Reduced blood flow to the heart and other circulatory problems.

How is heatstroke identified?

Doctors typically diagnose heat stroke in the emergency department. They evaluate your symptoms, perform a physical exam and take your temperature. They may also demand blood tests or urine examinations. Further tests might include a chest X-ray or electrocardiogram to monitor the electrical activity in your heart.

How is heat stroke treated?

This requires immediate medical treatment.

  • By applying ice packs to the neck, groin and armpits.
  • Encouraging patients to drink slightly salted fluids, such as sports drinks or salted water.
  • lay them down in a cool, shady, well-aired environment.
  • Dipping them in cool water, if possible.
  • Misting them with water and puffing air across their bodies.
  • Observing their breathing carefully and removing any airway blockages.
  • Not giving any tablets, including aspirin and acetaminophen.
  • Eliminating any clothing that is tight or heavy.

The individual with heat stroke may receive:

  • Chilled intravenous fluids through a vein in their arm.
  • Cooling blanket.
  • Ice bath.
  • Medication to prevent seizures.
  • Supplemental oxygen.

Occasionally cold-water lavage is necessary. This action uses catheters to fill body cavities with cold water. These aids lower the body temperature overall. 

How can I prevent heatstroke?

Generally, it’s possible to stop heatstroke by:

  • Evading strenuous physical activity in hot, humid conditions.
  • Gulping sports drinks, lightly salted water or broth.
  • Slowly letting your body adjust to warm temperatures over several weeks if you’ll have to be in hot conditions for work or sports.
  • Never leaving kids or pets in closed, hot spaces such as cars.
  • Living in air-conditioned or well-ventilated areas during heat waves.
  • Tiring lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing if you’ll be out in the heat.