Explanation and Causes:

Heat stroke sets in after a less serious illness called heat exhaustion. Because heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke, it should be taken just as seriously. Heat stroke happens as a result of the body not being able to cool itself through its regular mechanisms of sweating and re-hydration. In extreme temperature sweating mechanism is rendered virtually useless. Sweating can’t cool the body enough to lower the temperature. When you don’t hydrate yourself under these conditions, heat stroke is the result. Above body temperatures of 105 F, the brain struggles to function and mental status is altered. Without immediate medical attention, coma will set in and not long after death occurs.

People who are more susceptible to heat stroke include children, elderly, obese, and consumers of alcohol and certain medications. These criteria don’t exempt anyone from heat stroke.

Symptoms:

Heat exhaustion:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Moist skin
  • Dark Urine
  • Dizziness

Heat stroke:

  • Fever above 104 F
  • Extreme confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Dry, hot, red skin
  • Irrational behavior
  • Patients gets the chills and feels cold
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Diagnosis and Tests:

Diagnosis for this illness is recognizing the symptoms before it is too late. If there is any question as to whether or not this illness is present under the given symptoms, get professional medical help immediately. If possible, monitor the temperature from under the armpits or rectally as it gives the most accurate temperature readings in the body.

Treatment:

First priority in treating those with heat stroke is to cool the victim at a constant steady rate by fanning or lightly spraying the victim with cold water.. Care must be taken when doing this so as to not try to cool the victim to rapidly like throwing them in a lake as this could promote shock in the victim. Lay the victim down and raise feet just above the level of the head. Place ice packs under the armpits, around the groin, and on the neck. If the victim is not vomiting, have them drink sips of Gatorade or water with a pinch of salt in it. Monitor temperature, if no change, find professional medical help immediately.

Prevention:

When in extreme temperatures, try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Drink plenty of water to assure that urine output is light colored. Avoid hard physical activity when outdoors. Use extreme caution when drinking alcohol or taking medications. Watch and monitor children and the elderly closely.

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