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Heat Stroke

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Heat stroke, hyperthermia as medical fraternity calls it, is defined as a condition where in, the body temperature is exceptionally elevated, combined with physical and neurological symptoms. Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency, a potentially dangerous situation, requiring immediate action. Infants, old people and athletes are more prone to heat strokes. There are other types of hyperthermia or heat-related illness such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion, but they are less serious and can be treated through self-care measures.


What causes heat stroke?

Heat exhaustion manifests in symptoms such as headache, nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness and extreme fatigue. Left untreated, it can lead to a heat stroke that is more serious.


  • Heat stroke occurs when the body sucks in more heat than it can dissipate. The body temperature rises when it is exposed to the extreme heat and humid conditions and fails to regulate and dissipate the heat, leading to heat strokes.

  • Highly dehydrated body is susceptible to heat strokes as the body cannot sweat enough to cool down the temperature.

  • Few medicines (like antihistamines and medicines for depression and blood pressure) are also known to produce excessive heat in the body and impair the heat regulation mechanism even in moderate temperature environments.


Heat stroke symptoms


  • Dry, hot and red skin with very little or no sweating

  • Abnormal and irrational behavior combined with dizziness, confusion and hallucinations

  • Rapid pulse and difficulty in breathing.

  • Seizure, unconsciousness, coma

  • Rising body temperature(more than 40.6 C (105.1 F))


Treatment

  • When a person is struck by heat stroke, he/she should be immediately moved to a medical facility. You can help the patient by moving him to a shady area and removing his clothing and wiping the body with cool and wet cloth until he is boarded on to the ambulance.

  • Doctors in the hospital are most likely to use mechanical cooling techniques to bring down the core temperature of the body. If the heat stroke is due to certain medications, patient may be asked to stop the same for a temporary period.

  • An IV will be started and plenty of fluids are given to keep him hydrated.


How can heat stroke be prevented?

Several precautionary measures can be taken to avoid fatal heat strokes. Few of them are listed below.


  • Drinking plenty of water and liquids to replace fluids lost from sweating ensures sufficient hydration.

  • Wearing light and, loose-fitting clothes

  • Keeping away from alcohol, caffeinated drinks.

  • If working outdoors is inevitable, frequent breaks under shade are advisable.

  • Avoiding direct sun exposure during hot seasons.



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