Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is also known as sunstroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency which requires immediate attention. It occurs mostly in the very young, or the elderly with health problems. Working or exercising in hot weather or hot conditions without drinking the necessary amounts of fluids is the main cause of heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stroke may include –

  • extremely high core temperature of up to 41°C (106°F)
  • hot, red, dry skin
  • rapid pulse
  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • headache
  • confusion, strange behaviour
  • possible fainting, but can be revived

High core temperatures damage the internal organs, especially the brain. The loss of bodily fluids can also produce dangerously low blood pressure. If you suspect someone has heat stroke, begin treating him/her immediately, while someone else calls emergency services.

You must do everything you can to cool the heat stroke victim immediately. The best way is to get them out of the sun, immerse the body in cold water, such as a river, stream. Otherwise, remove most of their clothes, douse them with water, and fan them vigorously. Wrapping in wet sheets can help the body lose heat more quickly. If the person is conscious and alert, offer him or her water or other fluids. Avoid caffeine or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.

The heatstroke victim should also be put in a cool place. Lay them down and give small sips of liquid every few minutes. “Sports” beverages (with no caffeine) are best, but water is often more readily available. You should watch carefully for signs of deterioration, but there’s no need to rush to a hospital for heat