By Cheri Sicard
Do you know the signs of heat stroke? The folks from Medical Centric have produced a video that just might save someone’s life. More than 600 people die of heat stroke each year in the United States.
Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke and know what to do if you or someone you know is experiencing them. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated. The longer treatment is delayed, the greater the chance of serious complications.
Heat stroke is an illness marked by an elevation in body temperature. It’s usually caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Heat stroke results in a body temperature of 104 F (that’s 40 C). Untreated heat stroke can cause damage to bodily organs including the
- Digestive tract
- Circulatory system
There are two types of heat stroke: exertional and non-exertional. The former is caused by physical activity in high temperatures; the latter happens when people are not able to adapt to rising temperatures.
Causes of heat stroke
- Exposure to a hot environment
- Strenuous work or physical activity in a hot environment
- Alcohol consumption
- Wearing excess clothing
While anyone can experience heat stroke, these factors can increase your risk factor:
- Age: Children under 4 and adults over 65 are especially at risk
- Lack of air conditioning
- Sudden exposure to hot temperatures
- Certain medications that can affect the body’s ability to stay hydrated, such as high blood pressure medications, beta-blockers, diuretics, some anti-depressants, and cocaine
- Certain health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, lung disease, or a previous history of heat stroke.
Signs of heat stroke in humans
- A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher
- Hot, dry skin
- Red skin that gets redder with increased temperature
- Slurred speech
- Rapid breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
If you see someone with these symptoms it is important to treat them for heat stroke and also get them to a doctor, who will test for sodium and potassium levels and also make sure there is no damage to the central nervous system. A doctor will also likely perform a urine test to check for kidney damage, and a muscle function test.
Medical treatment for heat stroke
Treatment involves cooling the body to normal temperatures. A doctor may immerse you in cold water, wrap you in a special cooling blanket, or even pack you in ice. The doctor may give you medication to stop shivering.
Home treatments for heat stroke
If you can’t get to a doctor right away, here’s what to do in the meantime:
- Drink lots of fluids to rehydrate
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Cool off with a fan or a damp sheet
- Go to an air-conditioned or shady place
Last but most importantly, the video stresses that home remedies are not enough. Even when administering home remedies you should still seek medical help if you suspect heat stroke.