Published: 05/20/2007 - Updated: 07/29/2021
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
A heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature and under normal circumstances, it automatically do the thermoregulation mechanism: the body temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism ends bad (as part of thermoregulation), and therefore cannot reduce the body temperature, so that it reaches 41 º C or higher within 10 to 15 minutes, a situation described as hyperthermia. Heat exhaustion is a vital urgency as it can cause death or induce irreversible brain damage.
Warning signs of heatstroke
- An oral temperature above the 39.5 º C reaching 41 º C in the heat
- Red, hot and dry, no sweating (anhidrosis or failure of the sweating is a late sign in the heat, so in a first phase, with 41 º C, the victim may still sweating profusely)
- Strong and rapid pulse (tachycardia)
- Pulsatile headache
- Disorientation, agitation, delusions or mental confusion
Under these circumstances, the following measures should be taken immediately, and at the same place of the accident:
- Place the victim into the shade.
- Slacken belts, ties, shoe, etc.
- Take off clothes and let barefoot.
- Cool the victim rapidly using the procedure at hand. For example, immerse the victim in a bath of cold water, place it under a cold shower, watering with cold water using a garden hose, soak in cold water using a sponge, or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a sheet soaked in cold water and fan vigorously.
- Monitor the body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the temperature drops to 38 º C.
- If the ambulance is delayed with appropriate medical or paramedical staff, call the hospital to obtain instructions on what to do with the patient.
- Provide medical assistance as soon as possible.
Sometimes the muscles of a victim began to shrink in an uncontrolled manner of heat exhaustion. If that happens, it is necessary to take measures so that the victim doesn’t harm her or himself involuntarily, although one must not place any object in the mouth or give fluids in the mouth.
If there is vomiting, make sure that their upper airways are open, which should be placed on the victim lying on its side.
People who suffer it
- Infants, children and elderly, who have a thermoregulatory system less efficient.
- People who suffer from profuse diarrhea, such as the "tourist diarrhea”, are more likely to get dehydrated and thus foster the" heat ".
- People who live in countries with cold climates and who usually travel to hot countries may have more difficulty in adapting their body temperature. In countries or areas of countries with high humidity increases the risk of "heat stroke", since the high humidity reduces the efficiency of sweating and reduced loss of body heat.
- People who suffer from diseases that reduce the efficiency of thermoregulation, such as diabetes, obesity and chronic heart failure.
- People who drink alcohol excessively, since this leads to excessive dehydration of the body.
Prevent the risk of suffering a heat stroke
- Staying in the shade as long as possible
- Drinking plenty of water
- Avoiding alcohol
- Taking it calmly in the hot days, avoiding excessive exercise
- Covering head with a hat
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