It is just the beginning of summer and already, we are talking of how to prevent sunstrokes! Also, known as heat stroke, it is the most serious form of heat injury amounting to a medical emergency that causes damage to the brain and other connected internal organs when the body temperature crosses more than 105 degrees Fahrenheit due to progressive and prolonged exposure to the sun combined with dehydration which leads to the failure of the body’s temperature control system. These days, sunstroke does not spare anyone – it can affect anyone with no prior history of the problem.
Common symptoms include:
- A high body temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit
- Fainting and seizures
- Red, hot and dry skin with no sweating
- Rapid heartbeat(can be strong or weak) and shallow breathing
- Muscle weakness or Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness, Light-headedness, Persistent headache, Confusion, disorientation and staggering
- Loss of consciousness and coma in extreme cases
Immediate first aid
While the doctor has been summoned, the least you can do is initiate first aid by:
- Moving the patient to a cool, shady area and remove any unnecessary clothing.
- Check the core body temperature and bring it under 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do all possible things by fanning air and applying water and ice packs to the patient’s skin and armpits, groin, neck and back to bring down the body temperature until medical help arrives.
Heat stroke mainly strikes children under 4 and older people over 65, and those whose homes lack ACs or good airflow, especially in stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. It also affects those in any age group, who have chronic diseases of the heart, lung or kidney, obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, mental illness, are heavy drinkers and who don’t drink enough water. Those under medications like antihistamines, diet pills, diuretics, sedatives are at risk.
Preventing Heat Stroke
- Try and avoid going out during peak hours between 12 noon and 3 pm.
- Try and stay in AC environment or in well-ventilated rooms.
- Wear a good quality sunscreen and light airy clothes that allow you to breathe which includes a wide-brimmed hat.
- Drink plenty of water and fresh fruit juices to keep the body sufficiently hydrated.
- Avoid any form of caffeine, alcohol and aerated drinks.
- Check for dark urine color which is indicative of dehydration. Normal urine should be light in color.
Post Heat stroke management
After a bout of heatstroke, one should avoid any exposure to high temperature and going out in the sun or any physical activity for a week at least until your doctor gives you the green signal.