Heat Stroke

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When working or exercising outside in high heat and humid weather, a cool bottle of water is not all that's needed. Even though the body is quite self-sufficient when it comes to cooling off in normal weather and exercise conditions, when someone over-exerts and ignores the warning signs of heat exhaustion, it is likely that person is running down the road to heat stroke.

Heat stroke, (also known as "sun stroke") is a medical emergency. It is a condition that is characterized by the body's inability to cool itself off. It is as if your body's own thermostat has been broken. As a result, your temperature soars. When it reaches about 104 degrees F and beyond, it's unlikely that the temperature will come down on its own. At this point, immediate intervention will mean the difference between life and death.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Confusion
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Red, flushed face and skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Temperature of 104 degrees F or higher
  • Unconsciousness
  • If you notice someone with the above symptoms, do not hesitate - call 911 immediately. Once a person is suffering a heat stroke, there are some steps that you must take to help before the ambulance arrives:

  • Remove the person to a cooler place (shade is good, but a room with air conditioning is better)

  • Sponge down the person with lukewarm to cool water to help bring down temperature

  • Use whatever means at your disposal to circulate air over and around the victim; fan with a newspaper or towel, or use an electric fan if possible

  • Monitor body temperature with a thermometer. If no thermometer is available, just continue to try to bring temperature down, and use your best judgment.)

  • Once temperature reaches 101 degrees F (which is a reading of 102 degrees F if using a rectal thermometer, or 100 degrees F. if taking temperature under the arm), help the person onto his/her side to keep the nose and mouth clear

  • Continue all measures until help arrives
  • Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke. Knowing the symptoms of heat exhaustion and what to do if you experience them will help you avoid the spiral to heat stroke

    Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Pale complexion
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Weariness
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • If you are over-exerting outside in sweltering temperatures, or you're inside working without benefit of air conditioning, and experience the above symptoms, stop and do the following:

  • Remove yourself to a cooler spot, preferably indoors in air conditioning

  • Drink plenty of fluids (sports drinks, cool water, and water with a tsp of salt in it)

  • If symptoms do not improve within about 30 minutes, seek professional help
  • The best way to prevent heat exhaustion is to drink plenty of water or sports drinks before and during whatever physical thing you are planning to do in the heat. Do not go out during the peak heat of the day (usually about 10AM to 2:30PM) if you can avoid it.

    Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat to avoid the sun's rays. Take many breaks to drink fluids. If you're doing yard work or exercising, remember that you can do a little bit at a time and still reap the benefits of a beautiful landscape or a fit body. Besides, how much work will you get done if you suffer a heat stroke?