May 15, 2013

First Aid for Heatstroke

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

A heatstroke is the severest of all heat related problems. The problem itself results from performing hard or heavy work in the heat for prolonged periods of time. Combined with a lowered or inadequate fluid intake, a heatstroke can be fatal.

There are some people who are more prone to heat strokes than others. Young children and older adults are most susceptible to them because of the weak immune systems general health. People who have an impaired ability to sweat, which is usually a congenital defect, may also have heat related problems. There are some other factors that may increase the risk of heatstroke as well. These include cardiovascular diseases, dehydration, excessive use of alcohol, and certain types of medications which affect the blood pressure. Obesity is also considered as a relatively serious risk factor for getting a heatstroke.

During a heatstroke, the body’s ability to resist the stress caused due to heat, may not work well. Temperature control and sweating are often impaired due to a high amount of stress. The body’s temperature may get elevated, which also alters the mental state of a person. If the temperature gets to more than 104?F, changes in the mental state of the person may begin to manifest. Confusion and even coma may result from a severe heatstroke. Causes of heatstroke are basically related to elevated temperatures. Extreme heat and excessive humidity are the primary causes of heat strokes. The cooling mechanism of the body may fail and prolonged activity in the heat may only increase the amount of stress that the body is experiencing. The internal temperature of the body may begin to rise, which eventually leads to a stroke. Death may result from an untreated heatstroke.

The signs and symptoms of heatstroke are usually on display. The body temperature rises to excess of 104?F and may be accompanied by headaches and dizziness. If the person continues to subject themselves to the heat, confusion and disorientation may follow. The skin becomes hot and dry, and the person feels fatigued. If a person has been exerting a lot in the hot sun, there may be perspiration due to overexertion. There may be rapid and shallow breathing, fluctuations in the blood pressure, high irritability, increased heart rate, and eventually coma.

In older adults, loss of consciousness and fainting are the first two symptoms of a heatstroke. As a preventive measure, older adults are recommended not to spend too much of their time in the heat. First aid for heatstroke is important. Rehydration of the body is the first step towards the treatment. Immediately move the person out of the sun and attempt to cool down the body by taking them to a place that is air conditioned. If you can, call an emergency number and ask for an ambulance. To cool the body of the person further while you wait for the formal treatments for heatstroke, cover the body of the person with moist and cold clothes or a damp sheet. Keep spraying cool water on the person. Directing air to the person by using a hand fan or a newspaper is also among the initial treatments for heatstroke.

Apply icepacks to the groin and the feet of the person to cool their body, allowing the blood to normalize the temperature of the rest of the body. The victim should also be given plenty of rest.

Apart from the general treatments for heatstroke, there are some things you can do to prevent this from happening altogether. If you are planning to be in the outdoors in the course of a hot day, carry plenty of fluids with you. Also, try and avoid direct exposure to sunlight as much as you can. Wear light and loose-fitting clothes as tight clothes can intensify the effects of the heatstroke.