Be Sun Smart, Prevent Heat Stroke
by MedPlus Team, May 17, 2017
With the summer raging and the atmospheric temperatures setting a new high every day, there is a possibility of sunstroke. Sunstroke, also known as Heatstroke, is a condition that occurs when the body is exposed to excessive sun or heat and loss of fluid. Exposure to extremely hot conditions, like direct sunlight for a very long time, leads to a lot of insensible fluid and nutrient loss in the form of sweat and vapor, leading to dehydration and loss of required nutrients from the body.
A person affected with heatstroke may experience nausea, fatigue, headache, lightheadedness, and when extreme, seizures and confusion. The person may get disorientated and lose consciousness, and may even go into a coma.
Symptoms of sunstroke may include:
- Sudden Headache
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dark yellow or orange urine
- Little or No sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid shallow breathing
- Muscle cramps
- Pale, clammy skin
- Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight if your activity or job involves outdoor work
- When on a break, move to a shaded area with lower temperatures
- Drink lots of water or refreshing fluids at regular intervals (even when not thirsty) in order to keep the body hydrated
- Eat smaller meals more often and more fresh produce like salad and fruit
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibers like cotton and linen
- Avoid excess physical activity while in the sun if possible
- Lowering the body temperature and hydration are the primary treatments of sunstroke.
- If you suspect that someone has a heat stroke, immediately move the person to an air-conditioned environment or at least a cooler area.
- Offer some water, remove any clothing that will keep the heat in, like a hat, shoes, extra shirt, etc.
- Spray the person with water, blowing cool air on the person, or wrapping the person loosely in wet sheets.
- Alternatively, apply ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them reduces body temperature.
- Or immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water, if available.
- If these methods do not provide relief, transfer the person immediately to a medical facility where they can provide support in the form of fluid resuscitation and try to lower the body temperature from the inside by flushing the stomach or rectum with cold water.