Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion occurs when the body’s internal thermostat is overwhelmed due to high temperatures and body temperature is elevated significantly. This results in complications of the central nervous system and can be fatal if not properly and prompty treated. Learning how to recognise the symptoms of heat related sickness and necessary first aid could potentially save a life. However, keep in mind that Heat Stroke should be treated as a medical emergency and healthcare professionals should be contacted immediately.
Heat Exhaustion is more common and less dangerous than heat stroke, if not checked early on it will probably develop into heatstroke. Some common symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
- Sudden Tireness and Weakness
- Drop in Blood Pressure
- Quickening of Pulse Rate
- Muscle Cramps
- Nausea or Vomitting
- Infrequent Urination
- Extreme Thirst
- Excessive Sweating or complete Abscence of Sweating
If not treated and rectified, these symptoms would progress into the more extreme symptoms of heat stroke including severe disorientation, seizures and loss of conciousness.
When you recognise some or all of these symptoms of heat exhaustion, first-aid steps must immediately be implemented to reduce and control the overall damage to the person’s body.
- Take them to a cool, shady place and make them lie down.
- Remove any tight, restrictive or unnecessary clothing such as socks in order to allow heat to escape through their skin.
- Cool their skin with water or cold packs, particularly the forehead.
- Give them fluids such as water, glucose water, coconut water and sports drinks
Certain people are more common to developing heat related illness and suffering long term damage from them. Knowing who is at risk is valuable information in assessing the seriousness of a given situation.
- Young children and infants
- Elderly people
- Diabetes, heart and lung disease patients
- People prone to dehydration
- People involved in physically exhaustive tasks, such as construction workers.Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure. While most of these pre-conditions are unavoidable or inherent, there are several preventable factors that induce heat exhaustion that can be avoided.
- Wearing tight, restrictive clothing.
- Consuming food and beverages that heat up the body, such as hot tea and red meat.
- Drinking excessive soda and coffee, which have dehydrating properties.
The heat wave death toll in India has tripled in the past 2 decades, taking preventative measures and being aware of basic first-aid for heat exhaustion goes a long way toward preventing heat-related illnesses and fatalities.