Heat Stroke

A heat stroke can be described as a condition that occurs when the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees F or 40 degrees C. You are more likely to first suffer from either a heat cramp or heat exhaustion. If these problems are not checked, treated and controlled in time, they could be escalated to the level of a heat stroke, which is quite severe. A heat stroke is fairly common, which is probably why most people do not really realize how serious is can be. If not treated properly and at the right time, it can be a life-threatening problem. This is because the organs of the body begin to swell in response to a heat stroke. If the body temperature is not brought down immediately, the damage from the swelling could be irreversible and permanent.

One of the complications that could arise from this condition is the loss of blood flow, which in turn could lead to severe shock. This is quite a serious problem, as shock can lead to a significant amount of damage, if not treated in time. Some of the immediate signs of shock include a drop in blood pressure, cool or clammy skin and changes in the color of the lips and nail, where they take on a bluish tint.

Just about anyone can suffer from a heat stroke but there are some people who are more susceptible to this condition, as compared to the others. Senior citizens are more likely to suffer from this problem, because of a weakened immune system. Even those children who have under-developed immunity are at a much higher risk of heat strokes. You could also suffer from this condition, if you are not used to the heat and humidity, but suddenly have to spend some time in an environment where the temperature is quite high. The use of certain medication could also increase your chances of getting a heat stroke. There are different factors that can lead to a heat stroke, such as high environmental temperatures, strenuous physical activity as well as any other conditions which can elevate the temperature of the body.

In most cases, health care providers can tell if you are suffering from a heat stroke, just by looking at you. However, it is normal for them to run a few tests, for a more accurate diagnosis. You may need to undergo a blood test, a urine test, a muscle function test, x rays and other imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and identify the exact extent of the damage.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

A heat stroke is quite easily noticeable, as it triggers off many physical symptoms. As soon as any of these signs become evident, it is important to consult a doctor. Given below are some of the most common symptoms for heat stroke:

  • A raise in body temperature is normally one of the first symptoms of a heat stroke. In case your body is at a temperature of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) of more, it is probably an indication of a heat stroke.
  • Cramps or weakness in the muscles, where your muscles feel cramped or tender in the earlier stages, but then go either limp or rigid
  • Neurological signs, which usually include seizures. You may lose consciousness hallucinate, experience speaking difficulties or may not be able to comprehend what others are saying. Many people have also been known to slip into a coma due to a heat stroke
  • A severe, throbbing headache is usually triggered off by high temperatures in the body.
  • Significant rise in heart rate often follows a heat stroke. The reason for this considerable elevation of the pulse is that the extra heat places a lot of stress on your heart, so that it can help cool the body. In addition to a racing heartbeat, you may also see tachycardia, which is a strong pulse.
  • Breathing problems are generally noticed when the temperature in the body goes too high. Your breathing may become more rapid and shallow as compared to before.
  • As soon as the temperature of your body rises to an alarming level, you may notice a flush on your skin. The skin on your cheeks, neck, throat, arms and chest area may seem red in color
  • In case you are suffering from a heat stroke, which is a result of the hot weather, you skin will probably feel dry and hot to the touch. However, if the problem has been brought on by exercising too much, then your skin will probably feel moist and clammy.

Causes of Heat Stroke

A heat stroke is actually the escalation of two separate heat-related conditions, which include heat cramps, or heat exhaustion. If they are not controlled in time, they could further lead to heat strokes. Given below are the causes for heat strokes:

  • Strenuous physical activity, which leads to an exertion-related heat stroke by raising the body temperature. This is more likely to affect people who are not used to working out in high temperatures.
  • The most common cause of a heat stroke is environmental temperatures that are too high and cause your body temperature to increase. This could happen even if you are engaged in mild to moderate activity or perhaps are resting.
  • Wearing an excess amount of clothing, because of which the sweat on your skin does not evaporate properly
  • Consuming less than the required amount of water of fluids, which could cause dehydration
  • Drinking alcohol on a regular basis, which in turn could affect the way in which the body’s temperature is regulated.

Heat cramps occur due to physical exertion or exposure to extremely high temperature. When this happens you may notice signs like sweating, increased thirst and fatigue. At this time you will probably also notice cramps in your arms, legs and tummy. It is essential that you move to a shade or a cool environment immediately and if possible consume a lot of fluids, preferably with electrolytes. In case you fail to follow the necessary steps to manage heat cramps, you could experience heat exhaustion. As the condition worsens you may begin to feel a headache coming on, accompanied by lightheadedness or dizziness. You may also feel nauseous muscle cramps and cool or clammy skin. At this point, it may be best for you to take a cold shower, move to an air-conditioned area and drink an energizing beverage.

Remedies for Heat Stroke

In order to treat a heat stoke a medical health care provider will focus on cooling your body, so that it reaches its normal temperature as soon as possible. Some of the simple self-care steps that are advised in this case include:

  • Cold Water: It may become necessary to immerse your entire body in cold water or ice water, so that your body temperature can be brought down as quickly as possible. You could do this by sitting in a bathtub filled with cold water fir around 5 or 10 minutes. However, make sure that you are assisted by a family member or medical personnel during this time.
  • Cooling Blanket: If it is not possible for you to sit in a bath tub, you could warp a special cooling blanket around yourself, after packing your groin area, neck, chest and back with ice packs
  • Evaporation: This technique is one of the newer ones used by doctors, for bringing down body temperature. Since evaporation leads to cooling, this method can be as effective as soaking in a bathtub. In this process, some cool water will be misted on your skin and warm air will be fanned over your body, so that the water evaporates and the skin gets cooler.
  • Controlling Shivering: It is important to ensure that you do not shiver, as the simple act can raise your body temperature by a great extent. Therefore, in case any of the body-cooling other techniques are causing you to shiver, your doctor may give you a muscle relaxant, which reduces the shivering.
  • Rehydrate your Body: You need to alleviate body temperature internally and externally and therefore, it is important that you drink a lot of water. Drinking extra fluids can help reduce the risks for dehydration.

Diet for Heat Stroke

While certain health experts claim that a diet for heat stroke can help prevent the problem to some extent, there are no clinical studies to prove the claim. Nevertheless, the dietary recommendations for a heat stroke could be quite useful. Given below are some of the adjustments you can make to your diet, after a heat stroke:

  • Eat a high amount of fresh fruits and vegetables and especially those that have a cooling effect on the body and contain a lot of water
  • Avoid any food items that are high in salt, as excess sodium could hamper the regular production of sweat in the body
  • Drink an additional amount of fluids, like fresh juice or an energy drink as it could replenish the levels of water in your body
  • Consume some buttermilk, made from yogurt. Not only is this very cooling, but can also be great for the overall health.
  • Add healthy sources of protein to your diet, which mainly include nuts, pulses and olive oil. This will steady your blood sugar levels, thereby preventing heat strokes.

Suggestion for Heat Stroke

There are many steps that you can take to avoid a heat stroke, even if you do find it necessary to venture out in the heat or workout vigorously. First of all, choose your clothes carefully; opt for light fabrics in a loose fit, which will allow your skin to breathe. Moreover, if you are taking any medication, like antidepressants, antipsychotics, diuretics or beta blockers, it is best to check with your doctor, for additional precautions to prevent a heat stroke. 
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