Prevention, Symptoms and Treatment of Heat Stroke

With summer quickly approaching it is important to know the ways to prevent heat stroke as, unlike heat exhaustion, heat stroke can be fatal if not identified and treated promptly. Prevention of heat stroke is, obviously, the ultimate goal however, if inflicted, the symptoms and treatment appropriate to relieve heat stroke can mean the difference between life or death.

Naturally, our bodies, through the hypothalamus, work to regulate our body temperature at 98.6 degrees. When body temperature exceeds this threshold, we naturally begin to expel excess body heat through our lungs or, more importantly, through the mechanism of sweating. It is by sweating that our body releases fluids, which pull heat from the skin, and help to cool our body temperature. When this process is impeded, body temperature will rise and, when exceeding 104 degrees farenheight, the symptoms of heat stroke will set in. Unlike heat exhaustion, heat stroke can be fatal. Symptoms of heat stroke include, but are not limited to, absence of sweating, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, confusion, agitation, disorientation and even seizure or coma.

To treat a patient with heat stroke, the following first aid measures should be implemented immediately as any delay may result in death:

– Provide cool, non-alcoholic beverages. Do not give iced products
– Soak the entire person’s body in cool water
– Apply ice packs to the head, neck, armpits and groin.
– Using a thermometer, check body temperature to ensure temperature drops. If the appropriate measures are taken, the temperature should begin to decrease.
– When temperature decreases to 101 degrees farenheight, the patient should seek immediate consultation with a physician.

Prevention of heat stroke should be taken seriously so as to avoid distress and possible death. Special care should be considered for those at a more serious risk including individuals with a chronic illness or disability, those with cardiovascular or respiratory disorders and those consuming alcohol. Special monitoring of children under the age of five as well as the elderly should be considered. Additionally, any individual taking prescription medications may need to be monitored as some medications will interfere with the body’s ability to control internal temperatures. It is important to remember that thirst is not a reliable indicator of dehydration as once thirst sets in, in most cases, the dehydration has become quite severe. To prevent heat stroke from even occurring, consider the following measures:

– Remain in a cool, well ventilated area
– Exercise during the cooler times of the day
– Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages including those with electrolyte balances (Gatorade)
– Avoid caffeine and sugar products
– Take frequent cool baths
– Wear loose, comfortable clothing
– Wear a hat
– Consider mineral supplements containing calcium, magnesium and potassium
– Eat plenty of dark leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains and bananas.

With most of the country experiencing temperatures well beyond 100 degrees farenheight in the summer, it is important to know the methods for preventing heat stroke and, when inflicted, the measures to prevent a potentially fatal situation. If not treated promptly, and without becoming fatal, heat stroke can still lead to longterm health issues including kidney disorders or brain damage. By utilizing prevention methods, your summer events will be enjoyable and illness-free.

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