Heat stroke: Symptoms and treatmentWith the hot week we are having, I thought it may be a good time to remind us all of heat stroke and its symptoms.
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
With the hot week we are having, I thought it may be a good time to remind us all of heat stroke and its symptoms.
Heat stroke is strongly related to the heat index. A relative humidity of 60 percent or more hampers sweat evaporation, which hinders your body's ability to cool itself.
The risk of heat related illness dramatically increases when the heat index climbs to 90 degrees or more. Pay attention to the heat index and remember that exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by up to 15 degrees.
Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is a medical emergency. It can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Heat stroke mainly affects people older than age 50 but also takes a toll on healthy young athletes.
Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration, which leads to failure of the body's temperature control system.
The main symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature of above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. However, fainting may be the first sign. Other symptoms include throbbing headache, dizziness and lightheadedness, lack of sweating despite the heat; red, hot and dry skin; muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion, disorientation or staggering and seizures.
If you think someone has heat stroke, call 911 or transport to the nearest hospital immediately. Move the person to an air conditioned environment or at least to a shady area and remove any unnecessary clothing. Fan air over them while wetting their skin with water from a sponge or garden hose. Apply ice packs to their armpits, groin, neck and back. If possible, immerse them in a cool tub of water or an ice bath.
Infants and children younger than age 4 and adults older than 65 are particularly vulnerable because they adjust to heat more slowly than other people. Some health conditions also make people more vulnerable such as heart, lung or kidney disease, obesity or underweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, mental illness, sickle cell trait, alcoholism, sunburn and any other condition that causes fever.
When the heat index is high, it is best to stay in air conditioning if possible. If you need to be outdoors, wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing and a wide brim hat.
Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Drink extra fluids. The general recommendation is 24 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise and then add another 8 ounces before exercise. During exercise, you should consume 8 ounces every 20 minutes.
Monitor the color of your urine. Darker urine is a sign of dehydration. Drink enough fluid to maintain very light colored urine.
Avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol - both substances make you lose more fluids and worsen heat-related illness. Do not take salt tablets unless ordered by your doctor. The easiest and safest way to replace salt and other electrolytes during heat waves is to drink sports beverages or fruit juice.
DID YOU KNOW?
The main symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature of above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.