Each summer there are millions of people suffering from the extremely high summer temperatures. These temperatures affect our body in really bad ways. They cause our organism to overheat during a certain period of time. Read how to protect yourself from the extremely high temperatures and to avoid overheating during the summer. This overheating is otherwise known as heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion symptoms are easy to spot. It happens when our body temperature is between 37-40°C (98,6-104F). Other heat exhaustion symptoms do not affect the brain. Make sure you pay attention to this condition because if you do not treat it well, it can become more dangerous and then comes the second, more dangerous phase of the heat exhaustion called heat stroke.
When a heat stroke occurs our body temperature exceeds 40°C (104F) and in this condition our brain may suffer serious damages. Our neurological system is seriously affected and if not treated well, it can lead to coma, delirium and cramps.
What is a heat stroke and why does it appear?
Humans’ organism has the ability to maintain the body temperature under normal conditions. This is done by special type of cells inside of the hypothalamus, which build the thermoregulation centre. You can imagine the thermoregulation centre as a biological thermostat that registers each temperature oscillation and when the temperature is bellow/above, the thermoregulation centre reacts so it can maintain the proper body temperature. If the capacities are overloaded our body suffers from heat overloading. There are two types of heat overloading:
- Hypothermia – It occurs when our body is exposed to extreme colds
- Hyperthermia – It occurs when our body is exposed to extreme high temperatures
A heat stroke happens when our body cannot maintain the proper temperature in one of the above conditions. If we suffer from hypothermia and it lasts for a while, our organism will suffer from a heat stroke.
Risk factors that can lead to heat stroke
To be clear, each one of us is a potential victim of a heat stroke. However, these groups are more likely to become heat stroke victims:
- Newborn babies and kids up to 4 years
- People aged 65 and above
- People who have chronic health issues (diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, lung problems, metabolic syndrome)
Additional risk factors that can cause heat stroke
- Eating disorder
- Damaged skin
- Increased physical activity done during extreme high temperatures
- Living in urban environment
Symptoms and additional signs
Depending on how bad the hyperthermia is these are the clinical manifestations
Symptoms and signs of heat exhaustion
- Increased body temperature between 37-40°C (98,6-104F)
- Confusion, disorientation
- Concentration problems
- Low blood sugar levels
- Muscle cramps
- Increased heart bit rate
- Red skin
Symptoms and signs of heat stroke
- Increased body temperature between 40°C (104F)
- Lack of sweat
- Dried and hot skin
- Muscle cramps
- Lack of air in your lungs
- Chest tightness
- Increased heart bit rate
- Faster breathing
- Confusion and disorientation
Attention: A heat stroke is a serious health condition and if you do not treat it seriously and well it may be deadly!
How to help someone suffering from a heat stroke
In order to avoid more serious damages to the skin and the brain, in case of a heat stroke it is best to react right away. Follow these steps to help someone suffering from a heat stroke:
- Place the person in a cooler room – If you are outside, and cannot find a cooler room, find and secure a place where the person will not be directly exposed to the sun.
- Take their clothes off
- Pour some cold water on their body – The main purpose of this is to lower their body temperature. You can use whatever you have nearby: ice packs, cold water, wet towels, cold bottles… Place the cold objects in between the persons’ legs. That is the best way to cool their body as fast as possible. You can also place them under their armpits and around the neck.
- Call 911/Emergency units – After you do what is written above, make sure you call an ambulance to continue what is necessary to save the person from further damages. By the time the ambulance gets to the place, if the person affected by the heat stroke does not show any signs of life, start doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Heat stroke complications
The heat stroke may affect more organs depending on how much time the person was suffering from the heat stroke. Unfortunately, the heat stroke may cause permanent damage to the central neurological system, to the brain, the liver and the kidneys.
How to prevent a heat stroke?
Fortunately there are ways to prevent a heat stroke:
- Consume at least 2 liters of water on daily basis (67.628oz)
- Avoid going out in between 11am and 4pm during the summer
- Wear hats and light clothing
- Do not consume alcohol and caffeine
- If you must do physical activity when the temperatures are high, let your organism adjust to the outdoor temperature
- Do not under any circumstances leave anyone in a car parked outside.