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Heat Stroke
Healthy Living Program
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What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two other forms of hyperthermia that are less severe, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that can be fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as heatstroke.

The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by either radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises, sometimes up to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher. Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.

man-sm.jpgWho Is Susceptible?
Those most susceptible individuals to heart strokes include:
  • infants,
  • the elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to dehydration and heat strokes),
  • athletes, and
  • individuals who work outside and physically exert themselves under the sun.
What are heat stroke symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before progressing to heat strokes.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • fatigue,
  • weakness,
  • headache,
  • muscle cramps and aches, and
  • dizziness.
However, some individuals can develop symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning.

Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heatstroke. But common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include:
  • high body temperature,
  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin,
  • rapid pulse,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • strange behavior,
  • hallucinations,
  • confusion,
  • agitation,
  • disorientation,
  • seizure, and/or
  • coma
How do you treat a heat stroke victim?

child-sm.jpgVictims of heat stroke must receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent organ damage. First and foremost, cool the victim.

Get the victim to a shady area, remove clothing, apply cool or tepid water to the skin (for example you may spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose), fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation, and place ice packs under armpits and groin.

Monitor body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101 to 102 F (38.3 to 38.8 C).

Always notify emergency services (911) immediately. If their arrival is delayed, they can give you further instructions for treatment of the victim.

How can heat stroke be prevented?
  • The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
  • If you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, drink plenty of fluids (such as water and sports drinks), but avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tea which may lead to dehydration.
  • Your body will need replenishment of electrolytes (such as sodium) as well as fluids if you sweat excessively or perform vigorous activity in the sunlight for prolonged periods.
  • Take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself. Wear hats and light-colored, lightweight, loose clothes.
Above information courtesy of www.medicinenet.com 



 
Town of West Boylston 140 Worcester Street, West Boylston, MA 01583
Phone: 774-261-4010
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