Heat stroke is the most serious formof heat injury and a medical emergency
Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke mainly affects people over age 50, it also takes a toll on healthy young athletes. Heat stroke often occurs as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and heat exhaustion. But it can strike even if you have no previous signs of heat injury.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
– Throbbing headache, dizziness and light-headedness
– Red, hot, and dry skin ( a lack of sweating despite the heat)
– Muscle weakness or cramps
– Nausea and vomiting
– Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
– Rapid, shallow breathing
– Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation or staggering
– Seizures or unconsciousness
First Aid for Heat Stroke
Arrange transport to a hospital, any delay seeking medical help can be fatal. While waiting for medical help, move the person to an air-conditioned environment — or at least a cool, shady area and remove any unnecessary clothing.
Try these cooling strategies:
Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose. Apply ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck, and back. Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water or an ice bath. Prevention of Heat Stroke Wear lightweight, light-colored, loosefitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more. Drink extra fluids. To prevent dehydration, it’s generally recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water, fruit juice, or vegetable juice per day. Substitute an electrolyte-rich sports drink for water during periods of extreme heat and humidity.
Take additional precautions when exercising or working outdoors. Drink 24 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise and add another 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise. During exercise, consume another 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Reschedule or cancel outdoor activity. If possible, shift your time outdoors to the coolest times of the day, either early morning or after sunset.