Heatstroke can happen to anyone.
Heatstroke is caused by a combination of dehydration and overheating of the body. It may occur when the body is exposed to an increase in temperature. It may occur during vigorous exercise, especially when not enough fluids are ingested. When drinking alcohol, the body is less able to respond appropriately to high temperatures. Some individuals are more susceptible to heatstroke simply because of their genetic makeup. Some medications may cause you to be more sensitive to both heat and sunlight.
Who is most likely to suffer from heatstroke?
Generally, the young, the elderly, the ill, those of low body weight, and those with compromised immune systems are most likely to experience heatstroke. Those who work or exercise outdoors in direct sunlight or extreme heat can also become victims. The fact that you have been born and raised in a hot climate, does not protect you from the possibility of falling victim to this potentially fatal condition.
Some major symptoms of heatstroke include a body temperature of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), rapid heartbeat and pulse, flushed skin, no sweating, and headache. There may also be muscle cramps, lethargy, mental confusion, speech irregularities, and odd behavior. Seizures and eventually coma may occur if medical attention is not received promptly. Eventually brain and organ damage will occur, possibly followed by death.
If dehydration, alone, has occurred the mouth may feel dry and sticky, and there may be a feeling of lethargy.
How to treat heatstroke.
If you feel you, or someone with you, is suffering from heatstroke, the first step is to seek medical attention. If this is unavailable or delayed you must take immediate steps to lower the body temperature and rehydrate. Use any of these options possible.
Get the victim out of the sun and into a cooler area immediately.
Place the victim in a prone position with the feet raised.
Direct a cooling fan onto the victim.
Apply cold compresses to the back of the neck, the armpits, and the groin.
Lay a cool sheet over the body. (place a crumpled sheet in your freezer for a few moments)
Using a mister, spray the body with cold water. As this evaporates, it will cool the skin.
Rehydrate, with sports drinks if available. Never give alcohol or caffeine.
Medical personal will be able to treat heatstroke rapidly.
How to avoid heatstroke.
Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. If you live or work in a hot climate, always keep water available when out of doors. Drink extra water if you are exercising or doing strenuous work.
Wear clothing appropriate to the climate.
Avoid excessive exposure to the sun.
Avoid excessive use of alcohol and caffeine.
There are a variety of prescription medications, as well as street drugs, that make people more apt to experience heatstroke. If you take any medications, discuss these with your family physician.
Pets, as well as people, can suffer from heatstroke, so make sure your pets have a cool sheltered place to rest, and always make sure they have plenty of cool, clean, water to drink. If a pet suffers from heatstroke, use the same measures as you would for people, and get veterinary help.
Seek medical attention if you have any symptoms that concern you.