What is a heatstroke?

A heatstroke occurs when the brain fails to regulate the body temperature and the body has become dangerously overheated.Infants and the elderly are more susceptible to heatstroke.

Heatstroke can occur due to various reasons like:

  • Prolonged exposure to heat and humidity
  • Use of certain drugs that impact heat regulation
  • Illness
  • Untreated heat exhaustion (excessive sweating resulting in loss of fluids and salts)
  • Excessive dehydration

Heatstroke can be life-threatening and have serious long-term effects. It is a medical emergency. If you see the following symptoms in anyone call for emergency medical help immediately.

Symptoms of impending heatstroke

  • Unconsciousness or disorientation
  • Body temperature rising over 104°F or 40°C
  • Hot and flushed skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dry skin due to reduced or lack of sweating
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

What should you do in case you see these symptoms?

Step 1: Move them into a cooler place, out of direct sunlight. Turn on a fan or AC, if available.

Step 2: Remove any excessive clothing like jackets, scarf, hat etc.

Step 3: Call for an ambulance or emergency medical care

Step 4: Bring down the body temperature by spraying or sponging cold water.

OR

Wrap a cool wet sheet and pour water on them till their body temperature falls.

OR

Place ice packs covering as much of the body as possible. If ice is available without a pack wrap it in a towel and apply

All these will help bring down the body temperature quickly.

Step 5: Keep checking their body temperature with a thermometer by placing it either under their tongue or under their armpit. If the body temperature hasn’t fallen below 100°F or 38°C, repeat ‘Step 4’ until you bring it to at least 100°F (38°C).

If the person is alert enough to swallow and is not vomiting, give him some fluids to swallow. Help him sit up while drinking the fluids and ensure he does not choke.

If the person is vomiting, then turn him to his side to keep his airways open.

Until medical aid arrives, be attentive of his temperature, pulse, breathing and his responsiveness.

Heatstroke can occur without much warning. Your goal should be to cool them down and get them medical attention as soon as you possibly can.

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