By Terry Orr
This is article is a follow-up to our “Beating the Heat: Preventing Heat Exhaustion & Stroke” (http://kisbyto.blogspot.com/2011/07/beating-heat-preventing-heat-exhaustion.html) last July.
This year in our Nation’s Capital, we have experiences several days of extreme heat – where just the simple act of walking from a building to your car is difficult for many folks.
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Definition (Mayo Clinic):
Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. You are considered to have heatstroke when your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. High humidity, certain health problems and some medications increase your risk of heatstroke. So does being a young child or older adult.
Heatstroke symptoms include:
- High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
- A lack of sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
- Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
- Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
- Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
- Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
- Headache. You may experience a throbbing headache.
- Confusion. You may have seizures, hallucinate, or have difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying.
- Unconsciousness. You may pass out or fall into a state of deep unconsciousness (coma).
- Muscle cramps or weakness. Your muscles may feel tender or cramped in the early stages of heatstroke, but may later go rigid or limp.
When to see a doctor
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.
Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
- Help the person move to a shaded location and remove excess clothing.
- Place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person's head, neck, armpits and groin.
- Mist the person with water while a fan is blowing on him or her.
Heatstroke is predictable and preventable. Take these steps to prevent heatstroke during hot weather:
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
- Wear light-colored clothing if you're in the sun.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Take extra precautions with certain medications.
- Never leave children or anyone else in a parked car.
- Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day.
- Get acclimatized.
- Be cautious if you're at increased risk.