Heat Stroke: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Heatstroke is a heat-related illness accompanied by dehydration. When a person is exposed to direct sunlight or heat, the body temperature may rise to 104 F or above. The patient’s body may not be able to cool itself down through the skin by sweating or heat radiation. This extreme body temperature causes the nervous system to alter in functionality. Severe heatstroke is fatal and requires immediate first aid and a visit to the emergency room. Express ER in Harker Heights is a place you can visit.
Causes of Heat Stroke
- Heatstroke may occur when a person over-exerts in hot weather. This type of heatstroke is known as Exertional Heat Stroke. It affects athletes and people who over-exert themselves physically while under the sun.
- Heatstroke suffered as a result of extremely hot climatic conditions is called Non-Exertional Heat Stroke. This type is common in infants, the elderly, and the chronically ill when they are exposed to hot, humid weather.
- Dehydration is a major cause of heatstroke. When you do not take enough fluids that replenish the water lost through sweating and are in direct sunlight, you may be a victim.
- Wearing tight, heavy clothes that do not allow sweat to evaporate and cool the body may cause a heat stroke. Firefighters are susceptible to heat strokes due to their heavy clothing.
- Drinks like alcohol and coffee, when taken in large quantities, may affect the ability of the body to regulate its temperature.
- Medication like antihistamines, diuretics, tricyclic antidepressants, laxatives, and calcium channel blockers may cause heatstroke.
- Poorly ventilated spaces like cars and rooms without air conditioning are a cause for heatstroke.
- Overweight people are at risk of heatstroke. This is because their body generates more heat, thus reducing the body’s ability to cool down.
Symptoms of a Heat Stroke
- A throbbing headache
- Body temperature of 104 F or above
- Flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Heavy or no sweat
- Abdominal cramps
- Bizarre behavior like confusion, delirium, or slurred speech
Treatment of a Heat Stroke
The first step in treating a person who you think has suffered a heatstroke is calling a 24-hour emergency room near you. They will give you first aid tips for heat stroke that you can follow before you get to the ER near you.
First aid steps to follow before getting to an ER for heatstroke include the following:
- Take the person away from the heat to a shade or indoors
- Take off excess clothing
- Cool the person by; spraying him or her with a garden hose, dipping him in a cold-water tub, sponging using cool water, or placing cold compressors on the patient’s groin and neck armpits or head
- If possible, give the person cool drinks without alcohol or coffee
- Monitor the person’s body temperature by using a rectum thermometer and work to reduce it
What Will ER Do for Heat Stroke?
At the 24-hour emergency room for heat stroke, the doctor performs a diagnosis of the patient to check the extent of the damage done by the heatstroke and other possible causes of the high temperature. The doctor carries out a spinal tap, blood tests, and a CT scan. Blood and urine tests are done to monitor the functionality of the patient’s kidneys. The doctor will then prescribe suitable medication to the victim. Depending on the severity of the heat stroke, the patient may remain in the hospital for more than a day for effective treatment.
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke
- Take plenty of fluids during the summer to prevent dehydration, especially if working or exercising outdoors.
- Carry out outdoor activities under a shade or do them at a cooler time of the day.
- Wear clothes that are lightweight, fit loosely, and are light-colored. Dark-colored clothes absorb extra heat. Put on a hat with a wide brim.
- Apply sunscreen on the areas of the body not covered by clothes. It should have a sun protection factor of 30 and above.
- Do not leave infants and children unattended in a car. Car interiors heat up quickly and may cause heatstroke.
- Monitor a person for heat-related issues if the medication they use can affect the ability of the body to dissipate heat and stay hydrated.
- Take drinks that replenish electrolytes like sodium in the body.
- When indoors, stay in rooms that are well air-conditioned.