Heatstroke: Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment

General Health

Heatstroke: Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment

Know the basics when it comes to dealing with those with heatstroke since it can happen to anyone.


The Philippines is a tropical country where the storms are strong and the heat waves are harsh. Heatstroke can be a common occurrence in a place where temperatures can reach as high as 40 C. Keep yourself protected by learning more about the signs of heatstroke and how you can prevent it from happening to you.

What is heatstroke?

When you are exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time it may cause your body to overheat and may lead to a condition called heatstroke. Those who work under the direct heat of the sun on a daily basis are more at risk of developing heatstroke. Athletes who undergo rigorous training outdoors are also at risk since the combination of the heat and a rise in their core body temperature after exercising may also result in another type of heatstroke called exertional heatstroke. When you experience heatstroke, your body is no longer able to cool down itself.

Heatstroke vs heat exhaustion

Heatstroke is a more serious condition compared to heat exhaustion. The National Health Services differentiates the two based on the severity of the symptoms:

  

Heat exhaustion Heatstroke
  • Extreme tiredness as a result of lowered blood pressure and blood volume
  • Feeling of faint
  • Excessive sweating
  • Everyone who is exposed to extreme heat is at risk
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  • Occurrence of vertigo · Hyperventilation
  • High body temperature (40 C and above)
  • Flushed skin
  • People at risk include young children, the elderly, people with heart/kidney disorders, and those with diabetes
  • Considered as a medical emergency

First aid

It is important to know the basics when it comes to dealing with those with heatstroke since it can happen to anyone. Time is of the essence since heatstroke is classified as a medical emergency—follow these steps if you are experiencing heatstroke or if someone with heatstroke needs your help:

  • Call an ambulance right away or drive (if you are able) to the nearest hospital that’s capable of addressing your medical concern.
  • Stay in a cool, dry place while waiting for help to come. Avoid heat exposure to avoid further damage and ensure there’s enough ventilation.
  • Keep yourself/the patient hydrated. Do not administer any pain medications.
  • Remove excess clothing if possible to regulate body temperature.
  • Give yourself/administer a cool sponge bath.

Preventive measures

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be avoided. The first thing that you need to do is to keep away from the direct heat of the sun most especially from noon until late afternoon. Other effective ways to prevent heatstroke include:

  • Proper hydration – drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Replenish lost electrolytes by drinking sports drinks after working out
  • Keep your house ventilated – crack open windows mot especially during the daytime. If budget permits, install air-conditioning and cooling fans inside your home.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages to rehydrate since this could affect your body’s ability to control your temperature.

Once you reach the hospital, the doctor may recommend tests to help diagnose your condition. A rectal temperature examination is one of the most accurate ways to determine your body’s temperature. Other tests may also be administered like x-rays, blood tests to help determine sodium/potassium levels, and urine tests (dark urine can be a sign of dehydration).

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