Beat The Heat: How To Treat Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to very high temperatures, and often times, dehydration. It can be very serious, can is considered a medical emergency. Patients are diagnosed with heat stroke, when their body’s core temperature is above 103 degrees.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

While the main symptom of heat stroke is a high temperature, there are other symptoms of heat stroke. These include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Throbbing headache
  • Lack of sweating, even though the temperatures are high
  • Dry, hot, red, skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Staggering
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Treating Heat Stroke

If you believe that a person has heat stroke, you should first call emergency numbers (e.g 100 in India or 911 in US). Failure to get medical attention can result in death. When you call , you should give the operator as much information about the patient as possible. You should tell them the circumstances which led to the person becoming ill, and all of the symptoms. You should also advise the operator of the patient’s age and sex.

While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, there are a few things that you should do to treat the heat stroke.

Remove any unnecessary clothing.

This will help cool the patient. It is best to strip them down to underpants and a t-shirt.
Wet the patient down with the water from a sponge, or garden hose, and fan air over them.
There are certain areas of the body which will cool the body down fast. These areas are rich with blood vessels that are very close to the skin, cooling the body down quickly. These areas include: armpits, neck, back, and groin.

Lay the patient down in a cold bathtub. If they are able to stand, turn the cold shower on them. If possible, lay the patient down in an ice bath.

If the patient is vomiting, or is complaining of being nauseous, keep them turned on their side. This will prevent them from choking on their vomit, obstructing their airway.

If the patient is having a seizure, keep them safe from injury. If possible, hold their tongue, so that they will not choke on it or swallow it.
Try to get the patient to drink water. If they are feeling nauseous of vomiting, wait to attempt re-hydration until the paramedics arrive.

Preventing Heat Stroke

The best way to treat heat stroke, is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from heat stroke.

Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing

Wear a wide brimmed hat

Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more

You should drink plenty of fluids. Be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water or fruit juice each day. Heat related illnesses can cause salt depletion. Because of this, you should drink several sports drinks which replenish electrolytes.

Take extra precaution when working or exercising outdoors. Two hours before you go outdoors, drink 24 ounces of water. Right before you get outside, you should drink 8 ounces of water. You should drink 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes that you are outdoors in the heat, even if you are not thirsty.

If possible, reschedule your time outdoors to the coolest time of the day, either very early morning, or after sunset.

Heat stroke can be very dangerous, and even deadly, therefore, it should be taken seriously. The more you know how to prevent and treat heat stroke, the safer you will be.