The Downside of a Hot Summer — Heat Stroke


This summer has been extremely, extremely hot where I live. It's been so hot that every once in awhile the local news reports of the latest fatalities and hospitalizations of people who suffered heat strokes and dehydration, and the numbers keep increasing. Many of these people are actually those who work in offices.

What most people don't know is that heat stroke can creep on you when you least expect it. We enjoy the luxury of air condition and fans and often forget to hydrate enough, or protect ourselves better when we do go outside.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is the result of spending an extended time in an environment with high temperatures. A person is usually dehydrated when he or she suffers heat stroke, and the body starts to lose control of how it regulates its internal temperature. On average, the body's core temperature increases to greater than 40°C (or 105°F) when a heat stroke occurs.

When you experience a heat stroke, you don't just pass out. Internally, there may be damage to the brain and organs.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

Heat stroke doesn't always happen suddenly. A person may first suffer fatigue, cramps and exhaustion before their body finally gives out and they lose consciousness.

Other symptoms of someone suffering from heat stroke include nausea, dizziness, headache, rapid breathing, confusion and even seizures.




What to do when someone has a heat stroke?

First of all, definitely call for help, preferably an EMT or paramedic who can provide professional assistance.

Meanwhile, while you're waiting for medical officials to arrive, give the person suffering from a heat stroke first aid. Try to move them into a cooler environment with shade, and remove as much clothing as appropriate to help lower their temperature. Try to cool their core temperature further by fanning them and applying water and wet towels to their skin.

If ice is available to you, place it on the the person's neck, armpits, back and groin areas. This will help cool the blood vessels that are closer to the skin in these areas. Even better, try to soak the person in a shower or a bathtub of cool water if possible.

Who's at risk for heat stroke?

In most cases, older people are more likely affected by heat stroke, especially if they live in places that don't have good airflow. Those who don't hydrate enough, drink too much alcohol, or have other chronic conditions are also susceptible to heat stroke.

How do I prevent a heat stroke?

Drink plenty of fluids on hot days, even when you're indoors, and try to keep in an cool environment. You basically should drink water whenever you feel thirsty.

Try to avoid caffeinated drinks or beverages with alcohol, since they dehydrate your body.

When you go outside, try to wear clothes that breathe and are loose-fitting, protect your face and head by wearing a hat or using an umbrella, and definitely use sun screen if you're spending an extended amount of time under the sun.

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