Heat Strokeis the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency.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 medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures.
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 adults and 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 to watch out
Dizziness and light-headedness
Lack of sweating despite the heat
Red, hot, and dry skin
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
First Aid for Heat Stroke
While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, initiate first aid.
> Move the person to an air-conditioned environment or at least a cool, shady area .
> Remove any unnecessary clothing.
>Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose.
>Apply ice packs to the patient's armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature.
>If the person is able to drink liquids, have them drink cool water or other cool beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine
>Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water, or an ice bath.(if available)
>If emergency response is delayed, call the hospital emergency room for additional instructions
Preventing Heat Stroke
When the heat index is high, it's best to stay in an air-conditioned environment. If you must go outdoors, you can prevent heat stroke by taking these steps:
-Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting 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. Because heat-related illness also can result from salt depletion, it may be advisable to substitute an electrolyte-rich sports drink for water during periods of extreme heat and humidity.
-Avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol, because both substances can make you lose more fluids and worsen heat-related illness
-Take additional precautions when exercising or working outdoors.Make sure to drink adequate amount of water before excercise,while doing and after your excercise.
-Reschedule or cancel outdoor activity. If possible, shift your time outdoors to the coolest times of the day, either early morning or after sunset.
-Monitoring the color of your urine. Darker urine is a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink enough fluids to maintain very light-colored urine.
-Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
-Electric fans may provide some relief.
-Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment, as they generate heat.
-Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house, as these can cool the air.
-Take a cool shower or bath.
-Sprinkle water over your skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.
The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
Leaving infants, children, or animals in cars poses a risk for heat stroke. Even in moderate weather, the temperature inside a closed car can reach dangerous levels.
Those most susceptible (at risk) individuals to heat stroke include:
>The elderly with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to dehydration and heat strokes.Check with your doctor before increasing liquid intake if you have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention.
>Individuls doing strenuous exercise for long periods, such as military soldiers, athletes, hikers and manual workers.Outdoor workersespecially those at construction site should make a point to drink water frequently.
>Infants, children, or pets left in cars
Further, cars should always be kept locked when not in use so that children may not enter them and become trapped.
Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool.
If you suspect that someone has heat stroke -- also known as sunstroke -- call Emergency immediately and give first aid until paramedics arrive.Any delay seeking medical help can be fatal.