What is heatstroke, and how is it treated?
Summer has officially arrived and with it, so has the heat. Unfortunately, the hot temperatures can put people at risk for heatstroke – sometimes referred to as sunstroke. When someone experiences heatstroke, it’s considered a medical emergency.
When someone has heatstroke, their internal temperature reaches higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If they do not receive medical care right away, they can develop complications with their central nervous system. Usually, heatstroke follows after someone has experienced heat cramps or heat exhaustion, but not always.
What causes heat stroke?
Heatstroke most often occurs when someone has too much exposure to hot temperatures combined with dehydration. Wearing excess clothing and drinking alcohol while in hot temperatures can also bring on heatstroke.
Signs and symptoms of heatstroke
One of the most common symptoms of heatstroke is fainting. Other symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Being dizzy or lightheaded
- Not sweating despite the excessive heat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Racing heartbeat
- Confusion or being disoriented
- Hot and dry skin
- Muscle weakness and cramps
What steps to take when someone has heatstroke
If you are experiencing heatstroke or witness someone exhibiting symptoms, you must seek medical attention right away. While you wait for medical help to arrive, there are several steps you can take to help the person suffering from heatstroke:
- Take the person inside or into a cool area
- Remove any excess clothing
- Help the person cool down by trying a variety of measures such as putting their feet into a cold tub of water, grabbing the garden hose and gently spray them with cool water, gather ice packs, and put them on the person’s head, groin area, armpit, and neck. Taking these actions will help the person’s core body temperature begin to cool as you wait for emergency care.
How heatstroke is prevented?
There are several easy ways heatstroke is prevented, including:
- Wearing lightweight clothing: If you’re wearing clothes you don’t need during the summer months, shed them. Also, it’s essential to avoid tight-fitting clothing that doesn’t allow your body to cool properly.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough fluids, preferably water, will help you sweat, keeping your body cool. Be mindful of how much alcohol and caffeine you’re consuming because both of these ingredients make you lose more fluids and have the potential of making heatstroke worse.
- Limit time outside: If you have to be out during the unbearable heat, try to do so during the coolest parts of the day – either in the early morning or after sunset.
- Wear sunscreen: When you get a bad sunburn, it affects your body’s ability to cool off, so make sure you’re wearing plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, sunglasses, and other protection when you’re outside, especially when you’re swimming or sweating.
Who is at risk for heatstroke?
While anyone is at risk for heatstroke, certain factors can increase the likelihood that someone will experience it, such as:
- Age: Babies and children under the age of 4 and individuals over 65 are more likely to suffer from heatstroke. When you are little, your central nervous system has not fully developed, and as you age, it begins to deteriorate. And your central nervous system is what helps manage changes in your temperature.
- Activity in hot weather: Athletes in tip-top condition can experience heatstroke if they don’t stay hydrated.
- Medicines: Some medications people take can hinder the body’s ability to handle hot temperatures. Individuals taking these drugs need to be extra careful when out and about in hot weather. Medications taken to control high blood pressure, antidepressants, or those that help manage attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can make you more susceptible to heatstroke.
- Health conditions: Individuals diagnosed with heart and lung disease and those who lead sedentary lifestyles are at an increased risk of having a heatstroke.
Community First ER is here for you
If you or a loved one is experiencing heatstroke, Community First ER is here for you. Upon arrival, we will take appropriate measures to cool you off and get your body temperature regulated. With access to sophisticated equipment, we can gauge the extent of your heatstroke and get you the help that you need. No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are accepted. You will experience little to no wait times to receive our personalized, compassionate, concierge-level service. Our board-certified physicians and registered nurses treat you like family, making your health a top priority. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Should you need transportation to a hospital, we will arrange to transfer you via our ambulance and helipad services.
About Community First ER
Emergency health care is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first. For more information, visit our website at https://communityfirster.com/ and engage with us on social media.