By: on In Healthy Living

Heat Stroke – A Medical Emergency


With some just around the corner, most people find themselves eager in anticipation. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, the flowers are blossoming, school will be letting, and the world just seems to be in a better mood. However, while summer is arguably everyone’s favorite season, it isn’t without its pitfalls. And one of the most serious of those is heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered by doctors to be a medical emergency. Also known as sunstroke, if you ever encounter someone who you suspect as falling victim, it is imperative that you call 911 and ideally administer first aid until help arrives.

Resulting from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, heat stroke often happens in conjunction with dehydration and leads to the body’s failure in controlling its own temperature. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.

If it happens, heat stroke can prove fatal, however, it can also cause damage to the brain and other internal organs.

Typically, heat stroke only affects people over the age of 50, however, young athletes or people whose work leaves them exposed to heat and the sun are also at risk.

Very often, heat stroke will occur in a progression from a milder type of heat-related illness such as heat cramp, heat syncope (fainting), and heat exhaustion. Although, it is possible for heat stroke to occur with no previous signs of heat injury or warning.

Now that we know what this potential killer is and how it is caused, let us take a look at some proactive steps that we can all take in the coming months to make sure we don’t fall victim. And who better to give such advice then staff at the Mayo Clinic:

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly.

Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.

Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.

Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.