Heat Stroke Symptoms and How to Deal With It

Heat Stroke

The human body has an innate ability to thermo regulate i.e. to control the body temperature in a desirable temperature range ideal for the body using metabolism. Our body tends to shiver in the cold to produce heat in the body, whereas in a hot environment it sweats to cool down the body temperature. 

Heat stroke is a heat-related illness in which the body fails to control the temperature. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if not treated in time. Usually, it happens when a person is exposed to extreme temperatures and may be worsened by dehydration.

Our combined patient-centric care along with the expertise of internists in Patiala and advanced medical technology provides therapeutic treatment with an aim to promote not only preventive care but counselling for lifestyle modification as well.

Symptoms of heat stroke may include:

  • Confusion

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Headache

  • Exhaustion (Prolonged heat exposure can cause exhaustion)

  • Agitation

  • Heat rash (looks like a red cluster of blister or pimples on exposed skin)

  • Muscle cramping or Heat spasms (some people may experience extreme cramping in legs, arms or stomach as a result of heat exposure)

  • Disorientation

  • Absence of sweating (In severe heat the body may stop sweating to reduce water loss)

  • Coma (In case of extreme heat stroke this may happen)

Who is at risk?

Heat stroke is a serious condition and requires prompt medical care. With soaring temperatures, we must take extra caution to avoid the condition. People at risk should avoid venturing into hot temperatures.

  • Athletes and children both should avoid stepping out in hot and humid weather for physical activity as this may lead to exhaustion. 

  • Young children and or pets should not be left in the car in the summer heat, as this may expose them to heat and lead to heat strokes.

  • Individuals who work outside in the heat or exert physically should try keeping hydrated to prevent heat stroke

  • Elderly people, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions such as that lungs, kidney or heart weakness should avoid stepping out in extreme weather to avoid complications. 

  • Infants should not be taken out in extreme weather to prevent exposure to heat. Their bodies are not habitual to temperature variations and are not capable of effective thermoregulation.

While prevention is always better than cure, one cannot avoid stepping out of the comfort of air-conditioned spaces altogether. When encountered with heat stroke conditions or patients suffering heat stroke, certain steps of first aid must be employed-

  • Ask for medical help or dial the emergency number

  • If the person is conscious, provide them shade and cool

  • Immediate rehydration with ORS or water whichever is readily available

  • Loosen tight clothing and splash your face with cold water

  • Use an ice pack for arms and legs to provide immediate relief and cool

The summer months in the northern regions of India are extremely hot and therefore, one should avoid stepping out in the extreme weather at odd hours, especially during afternoon hours when the temperatures soar highest. Keeping hydrated is another way of taking care of one’s self to avoid heat stroke and related adversaries. Supplying the body with ample fluids, avoiding unnecessary exertion and keeping indoors can help prevent heat stroke. 

Manipal Hospital is the internal medicine hospital in Patiala that strives to attain excellence by pursuing multifaceted missions of research, services and utmost quality of patient care. 

 

 

Dr. Prashant Bhatt

Senior consultant - Internal medicine

Manipal Hospitals Patiala

 

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