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Heatstroke Treatment And Prevention

Heatstroke Treatment And Prevention

Posted By HealthcareOnTime Team Posted on 2022-03-09

With summer around the corner and mercury levels soaring high incidences of people passing out after an extreme physical activity while sweating profusely with flushed face and arms are on a rise. This usually happens after experiencing episodes of nausea, weakness, dizziness and chills with a dangerously elevated body temperature in an extremely hot weather.

Heatstroke Treatment And Prevention

Do not confuse such incidents with mere fatigue or heat exhaustion due to heat wave; or unconsciousness or heat cramps as a result of weakness usually experienced in hot summers; for such conditions are grave and can prove fatal if neglected! Yes, when prolonged exposure to sweltering heat becomes a problem, it can significantly impact our health causing heat-related illnesses. One such condition wherein the body becomes incapable to cope with extreme conditions of heat is "Heatstroke". If one is not used to hot weather, a strenuous physical exertion in such environment with lack of thermoregulation can trigger heatstroke, which can quickly damage our vital internal organs like brain, heart, muscles, kidneys, etc. This happens usually when the body temperature exceeds 40?C. The damage worsens if there is a delay in prompt and adequate treatment, increasing the risk of serious complications or even death.

Heatstroke can affect anyone but older people living in high-rise apartments lacking good airflow/ventilation are most likely to be at a higher risk during hot climates. Also, individuals who drink less water, or are physically active like athletes, labourers, etc.; alcoholics can fall prey to heatstroke. Heatstroke is classified into exertional or classic non exertional, wherein the former occurs in youngsters who carry out gruelling physical activities in hot environments for prolonged periods whereas the latter generally occurs during heat waves and in areas which typically do not have prolonged hot weather. Classic non exertional heatstroke affects the sedentary elderly individuals, chronically ill patients and toddlers. Certain medications like diuretics, beta-blockers, etc. can alter the body's ability to stay hydrated and respond to heat.

Careful monitoring of the affected is a must to initiate immediate medical intervention, as heatstroke manifests itself with symptoms which usually mimic a regular fever or even extreme fatigue-related conditions:
- Drastic rise in body temperature (40?C or higher)
- Altered sweating with flushed skin due to heatstroke by hot weather (dry and hot skin) and strenuous exercise (moist skin)
- Disorientation and lack of coordination
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Nausea, headache and vomiting
- Seizures or unconsciousness

If you suspect someone to be affected by a heatstroke, immediately rush the person to a nearby hospital, and while waiting for paramedics, initiate first aid by following these simple steps:

- Move the affected to a cool, shady area or an air-conditioned environment to accelerate body cooling
- Remove any unnecessary clothing and fan air over them while wetting them with water using a sponge or garden hose
- Apply ice packs to the patient's armpits, neck and back as these areas have blood vessels closer to skin, thereby boosting faster reduction of body temperature
- An ice bath or immersing the patient in a tub of cool water benefits in case an emergency response is delayed

Bringing body temperature back to normal by dissipating heat and keeping the patient's body hydrated is the foremost way of treating heatstroke affected which is usually attained by wrapping with cooling blankets, applying ice-packs and cooling techniques. Anti-shivering medications and muscle relaxants are prescribed to patients for effective treatment.

Heatstroke is predictable and preventable only if people are aware of their heat-sensitivity. With the rising global warming, incidences of heatstroke and its associated fatalities have become so common, that the affected is usually oblivious of its onset. To be more aware of your body's behaviour in hot environments will not only aid to manage the temperature better, but also prevent heatstroke. The known sensitive individuals must take extra care before going out in hot weather by avoiding direct exposure or working under sun, thus avoiding sunburns. Heatstroke related deaths can also be avoided if precaution is taken to never leave anyone in a parked car under sun, since the temperature inside the car can shoot up by 20?C within minutes. Performance of strenuous activities or exercise in hot weather should be avoided until acclimatised to heat. Avoiding heat and temperature build-up by wearing loose clothing and maintaining coolness in immediate surrounding and living area with shades and reflective materials is a necessity. Sufficient hydration with ample fluid intake is also a need for natural thermoregulation, eventually fostering body cooling.

Beat the heat and the ensuing intolerable hyperthermia with a little vigilance, and save lives!


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