Summer season is a great time to unwind and explore some of the world’s best kept resorts. Yet the scorching heat of the sun also brings with it some health hazards we ought to take seriously.
Heat stroke symptoms are always on the go to ruin our summer excitement so before you plan out your summer itinerary or buy those sexy bikinis, make sure you know what heat stroke is and the symptoms you can’t afford to forget.
Heat Stroke: Who are at risk?
Heat stroke is defined as a medical condition wherein the body’s cooling mechanism fails to adapt to a very hot temperature. One can be suffering from a heat stroke if the body temperature reaches 104 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Before heat stroke occurs, a victim could suffer from minor forms of heat injuries (heat cramps and then heat exhaustion) where the core temperature escalates relentlessly. Anyone is at risk of heat stroke but these four conditions can further increase one’s vulnerability:
Age – Very young children and older adults (>65 years old) are especially at risk due to the poor condition of their body’s heat control mechanisms. Younger children have an immature central nervous system while older adults suffer from deteriorating temperature controls. As a result, their bodies won’t respond effectively if exposed to prolonged periods of heat.
Activity – Strenuous exercises can also put so much stress to our body’s heat control mechanism. If not controlled, our body signals will get exhausted and fail to respond to the increasing temperature. Such is the case for athletes and military trainees who are required to endure long hours of activity during peak afternoon hours.
Medication – Some prescription drugs that control the nervous system can also put a patient at risk for heat stroke symptoms. These medications have potent properties that can alter the body’s way of retaining water and electrolytes. Examples of these include diuretics, bet-blockers, vasoconstrictors, and most psychoactive drugs.
Genetics – Our body’s ability to respond to heat can also be attributed to our genes. Some people adapt easily to very hot environment while others—mainly due to a different set of genes—are more vulnerable to heat stroke symptoms.
Heat Stroke Symptoms
1. Body temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celcius) or higher – this is the hallmark sign of heat stroke. At this point, the body already fails to counteract the continuous increase of temperature.
2. Lack of sweat – Although it is apparent during initial stages of heat injuries (i.e. heat cramps or heat exhaustion), sweating is commonly absent among heat stroke victims. The excessive heat already took its toll on the body’s cooling mechanism that even classic signs such as sweating is non-existent.
3. Muscle cramps – Pain is evident during earlier stages of heat stroke. But as the condition worsens, the cramps can progress to more painful, rigid muscles.
4. Rapid heartbeat – With the absence of sweat, a fast heartbeat is a sign that the body is trying hard to compensate for the increasing body temperature.
5. Rapid and shallow breathing patterns
6. Mental confusion which often leads to hallucination, staggering, and other behavioral changes.
8. Nausea and vomiting
9. Flushed skin – the victim’s failure to release heat leads to a red, hot, and dry skin.
Heat stroke symptoms are warning signs that prove how severe this injury can become. In fact, heat stroke is considered a medical emergency as failure to apply prompt medical attention can lead to severe damage to brain, kidneys, muscle, and heart.
If ever someone close to you suffers from these classic symptoms of heat stroke, ask for medical assistance right away and apply these basic first aid treatment:
1. Put the victim in a cool, shady area (air-conditioned room is preferred).
2. Apply ice packs to the victim’s groin area, armpit, head and neck. These areas are rich in blood supply so applying cold compress on them can lessen the heat.
3. Immerse the victim in a bathtub full of cool water.
Heat stroke can spoil your summer enjoyment and also put your life at risk. So to make sure you get the best from your vacation, remember the classic heat stroke symptoms and the simple ways to manage them. In this way, you’re not only saving yourself but your loved ones as well.