Heatstroke – No 1 Public Health Concern

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Avoid Heatstroke – Stay Hydrated

With February coming to an end we are staring at hot summer climes ahead. March onward the weather will get increasingly warmer with temperatures soaring in April and May. Thermic fever or siriasis, commonly known as heatstroke or sunstroke will be public enemy number 1 in the days to come. Heat stroke is actually life-threatening. It is an emergency condition requiring swift treatment.

Heat stroke occurs when body’s mechanisms to control temperature fails. It happens to people who are in poor environmental conditions. Not to be confused with heat exhaustion (feeling sick and faint), a heat stroke could actually kill. Symptoms of heat stroke are extremely high core temperature, hot red dry skin, rapid pulse, rapid shallow breathing, headache, confusion, strange behavior and loss of consciousness.

Exposure to severe hot weather without drinking enough fluids is the main cause of heat stroke. You could suffer heat stroke by not replenishing fluids in your body. You begin to lose large amounts of body fluid in the form of sweat without noticing any effects. But there will come a point when the body’s fluid reserve for vital functions will get depleted. A point comes when you stop sweating, temperature shoots up and your cells start dying!

Water is essential to cool us down by allowing the body to produce sweat. It is also important to maintain blood pressure. People with the following conditions are more prone to heat stroke – alcoholism, heart disease, obesity, older age, Parkinson’s disease, uncontrolled diabetes, use of medications like diuretics and antihistamines, use of some psychoactive drugs like cocaine. Heavy clothing and some skin conditions also contribute to occurrence of heat stroke.

Heat stroke diagnosed by symptoms like body temperature, is a medical emergency and one must recognize the signs. Victims need to be rushed to a doctor urgently. Even before that one should try to control their core body temperature. Do everything to keep the victim cool. Remove the person from the sun to get him inside. Dunk them with cold water. Remove restrictive clothing and douse water while fanning vigorously. Wrap wet sheets and if person is conscious and alert offer water.

Take the person’s temperature every 10 minutes. Ensure that victim does not start shivering as this will raise core temperature again. You should not let the core temperature fall below 100°F, as this can result in uncontrollable slide towards dangerously low temperatures or hypothermia. You should make efforts to get the victim to a hospital immediately. Watch out for signs of respiratory arrest – breathing failure and be ready to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

You can prevent heatstroke by drinking large amounts of liquids during summer. More so if one is planning to be outdoors. Water in fact should be consumed all day long. Fluid loss happens all through summer so it is essential to consume water. Drink a glass every hour whether you feel it or not as thirst is a late indicator of dehydration. Avoid the outdoors in summer especially during the hottest times of the day. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes as they deflect sunlight. Stay in the shade and avoid coffee, alcohol, especially beer due to its fluid loss effect.

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Keep Drinking Water All Through Summer

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