Most people have heard the term heat stroke, but many can not identify the signs, symptoms and treatment needed for heat stroke victims. It is important to recognize that, first and foremost, heat stroke is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. It can come on without warning, especially for infants, the elderly and people working outdoors for a significant period of time. Certain medications can also contribute to the likelihood of having a heat stroke.
A heat stroke occurs when a person can not produce enough sweat to help cool their body down. High humidity, extreme heat and continuous activity in the sun on a hot day are three things that can elevate the chanced of having a heat stroke. Symptoms of a heat stroke are similar to extreme dehydration because the two often go hand in hand. Symptoms include seizures, unconsciousness, dizziness, headaches, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, feeling fatigued, a high body temperature, kin that is flushed, dry and hot, but not sweaty, and a fast heart beat.
If you feel like someone you are with is having a heat stroke, it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. You should call 911 or take them to the closest emergency room. If you are waiting for an ambulance, take the person inside to get them out of the heat and the sun. Use a cloth to apply cool water to the person’s skin and fan them while they are lying down with their feet slightly raised. Once the person goes to the hospital, they can expect to have an IV for fluids and to be on bed rest.
There are many things that you can do to help prevent a heat stroke. Everyone, but especially the elderly and children, should not stay outside for extended periods of time during hot weather. Keep yourself hydrated with water or sports drinks and avoid alcohol, tea, soda and coffee. A spray bottle of water or hose can help keep your skin moist. Do not exercise outdoors during the hottest time of the day. Spend some time in the shade if you are going to be outside and wear a hat and lightweight, loose clothing. Try not to wear dark colored clothing as it can attract the sun. Remember, if you feel like you are someone you are with is having a heat stroke, it is better to be safe than sorry. Call your hospital’s emergency room if you have questions and seek immediate medical care to avoid long term, serious affects and damage that can be caused by a heat stroke.
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