Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Heat Stroke

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Heat Stroke

May 01, 2022

One might view heat illness as a continuum of illness relating to the body’s inability to cope with the heat. It includes minor illnesses such as heat cramps, heat edema, heat syncope, heat tetany, and heat exhaustion. However, heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heatstroke occurs when your body overheats. It is usually caused by physical exertion and prolonged exposure to high temperatures. The most serious form of heatstroke occurs when your body temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius or 104 F or higher. The condition occurs mostly during the summer months.

Heatstroke requires you to seek emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can damage your heart, brain, muscles, and kidneys. As you delay getting treated, the damage worsens, leading to an increased risk of serious complications or death.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Some of the symptoms of heatstroke include:

Alteration in sweating: Your skin feels hot and dry to the touch when your heatstroke is caused by hot weather. However, in heatstroke caused by strenuous exercise, your skin might feel slightly moist or dry.

Flushed skin: As you experience body temperature increase, your skin may turn red.

High body temperature: The main common sign of heatstroke is a high body temperature of 194 F or higher.
Altered mental state or behavior: If you’re agitated, confused, irritated, or slurred speech, it can result from heatstroke. Also, coma and seizures can result from heatstroke.

Nausea and vomiting: You may vomit or feel sick to your stomach.
Rapid breathing: You may breathe very rapidly, or your breathing may become shallow.

Racing heart rate: Your pulse may increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart that helps in cooling your body.

Headache: You might experience a throbbing head.

When to See a Doctor

If you’re with a person experiencing heatstroke, visit us at Express Emergency Room Harker Heights, TX, to seek immediate medical help.

You might as well take immediate action to try cooling the overheated person while you wait to get emergency treatment. You can:

  • Remove excess clothing
  • Get the person into the shade
  • Try cooling the person in whatever means available, spray them with a garden hose, and put them in a tub of water or cool shower. Also, you can place wet towels or ice on the person’s armpits, neck, or head. Causes of Heat Stroke

Heatstroke can be a result of:

Strenuous activity: Exertional heatstroke can be caused by an increase in the core body temperature resulting from physical activity in hot weather. Working or exercising in hot weather can lead to exertional heatstroke. However, it is most likely to occur when one is not used to high temperatures.

Exposure to a hot environment: In classic heatstroke, a hot environment leads the core
body temperature to rise. This type of stroke usually occurs after exposure to humid or hot weather, especially for a long period. It happens most often to people with chronic illness or older adults.

In either of the two types of heatstroke, your condition can be brought on by:

  • You are drinking alcohol which can regulate the ability of your body to regulate temperature.
  • Too much clothing prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body
  • Being dehydrated by not drinking adequate water to recover fluids lost through sweating.

Treatment of Heat Stroke

Heatstroke treatment in our emergency room at Harker Heights, TX, focuses on cooling your body to a normal temperature to prevent damage to your vital organs and brains. Our doctor will take the following steps when offering you treatment:

Immerse you in cold water: The most effective way to lower one’s core body temperature is the use of a bath of cold or ice water. The quicker your doctor immerses you in cold water, the less risk of organ damage.

Use evaporation cooling techniques: The doctor may use the evaporation method when the cold-water immersion is unavailable. Your body will be misted with cool water while warm air is fanned over you to cause water to evaporate and cool your skin.

Pack you with cooling blankets and ice: This helps lower the temperature on your body.

Provide you with medications to stop your shivering: If treatments you’re offered make you shiver, the doctor might give you a muscle relaxant. However, shivering leads to increased body temperature, making the treatment less effective.

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