Heatstroke

1 What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a condition caused by the overheating of the body, this is usually due to prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures.

Heatstroke are the most severe forms of heat injury, they occur if body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.

Heatstrokes require medical attention. If left untreated, heatstroke can quickly damage the brain, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens as long as the treatment is avoided or delayed.

This delay can increase the risk of serious complications or even death.

2 Symptoms

Heatstroke symptoms may include the following:

  • Primarily, a body temperature of 104 F or 40 C or higher is registered.
  • Confusion,
  • slurred speech,
  • irritability,
  • delirium,
  • seizures
  • and a coma may result from heatstroke.

In heatstroke brought by on by hot weather, skin will feel hot and dry to touch. However, heatstroke brought on by strenuous activity has skin feeling moist.

Other signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, reddening of the skin, rapid breathing, a racing heart rate brought about by the burden put on the heart to help cool the body.

Headaches can also be among the symptoms, as a throbbing pain.

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3 Causes

A heatstroke can be caused by an exposure to a hot environment.

In a heatstroke known as a non exertional or classical heatstroke, the mere presence of one in a hot environment leads rise in body temperature.

This type of heatstroke typically occurs after exposure to hot, humid weather, especially for prolonged periods of time such as two or three days.

Strenuous physical activity can also be a cause of heatstroke. In this case, exertional heatstroke is caused by an increased body temperature brought on by intense physical activity in  hot temperatures.

Wearing excess clothing that prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling the body the body.

Drinking alcohol also affects the ability of the body to regulate its temperature can also be part of the cause of heatstrokes.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Heatstroke is usually apparent to doctors, but laboratory tests can confirm their diagnosis, rule out other causes for your symptoms and assess organ damage.

These tests may include the following:

  • Blood tests to check sodium of potassium content and gases in blood.
  • Other tests include urine tests, muscle function tests to check for serious muscle damage.
  • X-rays and other imaging tests can also be done in order to make a diagnosis. Here internal organs are viewed to check if damaged has been caused to them.

5 Treatment

Heatstroke treatment focuses mainly on cooling the body to a normal temperature, this is done to prevent or reduce damage to the brain and other vital organs.

To do this, the doctor usually may do the following:

  • Cold water immersion. A bath of cold water can quickly lower the temperature.
  • Another way is by using evaporation cooling techniques.

Some doctors prefer the use of evaporation to cold water immersion to lower body temperature. In this method, cold water is moisted on the skin while warm air is fanned over the body causing the water to evaporate and cooling the skin.

Another method is by wrapping one in a special cooling blanket and applying ice packs to the groin, neck, back and armpit to lower body temperature.

Some medictions can be given to stop the shivering. If treatments to lower body temperatures make one shiver, doctors usually give muscle relaxants, such as benzodiazepine. Shivering increases body temperature, making treatment less effective

6 Prevention

Heatstroke is often predictable and preventable.

The following steps can help one prevent a possible heatstroke during hot weather:

  • Wearing loosefitting and lightweight clothing.
  • Providing protection against sunburn.
  • Sunburn affects the body's ability to to cool itself, therefore, it is very important to wear wide-brimmed sun hats, sunglasses.
  • Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
  • Limit time spent working or exercising in heat until you're conditioned to it.

People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your the body to adjust to hot weather.

If you take medications or have a condition that increases risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating.

If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency. and also using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

Drinking plenty of fluids is also a vital  part of  preventing heatstroke. By staying hydrated, the body sweats and this inturn cools down the body.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with heatstroke.

Home treatments are not enough for heatstroke. Anyone with heatstroke signs and symptoms must seek immediate medical assistance, and it is very important to take several measures to cool while awaiting treatment.

In lesser heat emergency, such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, the following steps can lower body temperature:

  • Getting to a shady place,
  • going to a room with air-conditioning or cooling off with some damp sheets.

If one is around an individual experiencing heat-related symptoms, it is vital to cool the individual by covering them with damp sheets or spraying with with cold water. Direct air onto the skin of the individual. Taking  cool bath or shower may also be helpful as is rehydration by taking a lot of fluids.

Sugary or alcoholic beverages should be completely avoided as means of rehydration. These drinks may interfere with the body's ability to control  temperature.

Also, very cold drinks can cause stomach cramp.

8 Risk and Complications

There are various factors that increase the risks of a heatstroke, the following are among them:

  • Primarily, age has a part to play, heatstroke are more common in the very young and in adults over the age of 65.
  • Exertion in hot weather is also one of the leading risks that can result in a heatstroke, participating in sports such as football in hot weather can easily lead to heatstroke.
  • Another risk is sudden exposure to hot weather as one can be more susceptible to heatstroke when they are exposed to a sudden increase in temperature. This sudden increase can be experienced during early summer heat waves or traveling to a hotter climate.
  • Taking stimulant drugs and other illegal stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines can increase the risk of heatstroke.  
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