Heatstroke is a condition caused by overheating of the body, which develops during prolonged exposure to high temperatures or physical exertion. Heat stroke occurs when the ambient temperature exceeds 40°C (104 F). It is common in the summer months.
Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention. In severe cases, brain, heart, kidney and muscle pathologies may develop. The risk of complications is higher, the more medical assistance is available.
Heatstroke can cause:
- Prolonged stay in hot, humid environment. Easily develops in the elderly
- Physical exertion in hot environment conditions
In both cases, the cause of heat stroke can be:
- Extra clothes that prevent evaporation of sweat and cooling of the body
- Drinking alcohol - which interferes with body heat regulation processes
- Dehydration – not getting enough fluids in hot weather to replace fluids lost through sweating
- increase in body temperature. Basal temperature, measured in the rectum, is 40°C and above
- Changes in consciousness and behavior - depression of consciousness, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, lethargy, in extreme cases coma may develop
- Change in sweat production – skin feels dry and hot to the touch. When playing with the heat developed on the background of physical activity, the skin may be slightly moist
- Nausea, vomiting
- Redness of the skin
- Increasing the frequency of breathing - with the increase in the frequency of breathing, inhalation becomes shallow
- Acceleration of heart rhythm
Anyone can develop heatstroke, but there are certain risk factors, such as:
- age. In young animals, the thermoregulatory center of the brain is not fully formed, and therefore the body temperature is partially dependent on the ambient temperature. Also, in people older than 65 years, temperature regulation processes are disturbed. In these age groups, it is also difficult to control fluid intake, which increases the risk of thermoregulation.
- Physical activity in hot weather. Military and sports training in hot, humid weather creates the risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
- Sudden increase in temperature – when changing the environment or traveling to a hot climate zone. It is necessary to reduce physical activity to a minimum in order to go through acclimatization processes and adapt to the ambient temperature.
- Lack of air conditioning. In a poorly ventilated environment, the risk of heatstroke is greater.
- Some medications affect the fluid balance in the body and contribute to the development of heat stroke. When in a hot environment, be careful if you are taking medications such as vasoconstrictors, beta blockers, diuretics, antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications. Central nervous system stimulant medications (eg, in the treatment of ADHD) and illegal stimulants (amphetamines, cocaine) also increase the risk of developing heat stroke in hot environments.
- Some health conditions. Heart and lung diseases increase the risk of heat stroke.
Depending on how long the overheating of the body lasts, complications may develop:
- When the body is overheated for a long time, without timely intervention and temperature reduction, organ damage, brain swelling, etc. may develop.
- In severe cases, exposure to heat can be fatal.
It is enough to follow a few simple recommendations to prevent heat stroke:
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing. Too tight and dark-colored clothes prevent the evaporation of sweat and contribute to overheating of the body
- Protect yourself from sunburn: a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Drink enough fluids, which is necessary for sweating and cooling the body.
- Be careful when taking certain medications
- Do not stay, do not leave children in a parked car. In a car parked in the sun, the temperature can rise by as much as 20° in a few minutes, even with the windows open.
- During the hottest periods of the day, reduce physical activity. If you can't, drink plenty of fluids, rest often, and cool down.
- If you belong to the risk group, be careful about all factors.
When to see a doctor?
As soon as you experience the symptoms of overheating and heatstroke, it is recommended to avoid hot environments, remove excess clothing, take a bath or shower with cool water, and wrap yourself in a wet towel. If necessary, call the emergency brigade
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