What Is Heat Stroke?
When your body begins to overheat due to long exposure to or too much of physical exertion in high temperatures, heatstroke occurs. Heat stroke is commonly called sunstroke and is also known as siriasis or thermal fever. When your body heats up to 104oF or 40oC and when all the mechanisms to control the body temperature falls, heat stroke occurs and if not treated immediately it can also be life-threatening.
Heat strokes occur very commonly during the summer months and if left untreated it can damage your heart, kidney, brain, and muscles and can even lead to death. When it is very hot, you feel faint and sick, this is most often heat exhaustion which is a less serious condition than heat stroke.
There are two kinds of heat strokes which occur – classic or NEHS (non-exertional heat stroke) and EHS (exertional heat stroke). NEHS or classic heat strokes mostly affect older or young people who live in the environmental conditions that are very poor and are prone to health risks. EHS, on the other hand, occurs in healthy, younger people who are extremely active and participate in a very extreme physical activity.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Stroke?
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- A very high body temperature, where the core temperature goes up to 104oF or 40oC or higher.
- Agitation, confusion, irritability, delirium, disorientation, slurred speech, seizures and coma.
- If the heat stroke occurs due to hot weather, then the skin will be dry and hot when you touch it. If the heat stroke is due to demanding physical activity, then the skin will feel dry or a bit moist.
- Nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, and dizziness.
- Despite the heat, having no sweating.
- Cramps and muscle weakness.
- Flushed skin.
- A rapid rate of breathing, heart racing.
- A throbbing headache, seizures.
What Are The Causes Of Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke can occur due to:
- Exposure to extreme heat, sudden exposure to very hot weather.
- Strenuous activity, wearing too many clothes that do not allow the sweat to evaporate and the body to cool quickly.
- Drinking alcohol, not drinking sufficient water resulting in dehydration.
If you have the following conditions, you may be especially at risk of a heat stroke:
- Chronic diseases like heart and lung disease, uncontrolled diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, skin problems, etc.
- Older age, alcoholism, obesity
- Use medications like antihistamines and diuretics
- Use psychoactive drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, etc., stimulants for ADHD, etc.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Heat Stroke?
- When it is hot, wear light and loose-fitting clothes and avoid tight clothes that do not allow your body to cool to prevent heat stroke.
- Getting a sunburn can affect the capacity of the body to cool itself, so protect yourself from the sun by using a hat, sunglasses and a sunscreen cream.
- Remove all the excess clothing that the person may be wearing.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, as this will help your body to sweat and maintain a normal temperature. You can also replenish the loss of water and salts by drinking sports drinks.
- If you take medications, ensure that you take all precautions to help the body to dissipate the heat, stay hydrated and prevent heat stroke.
- If you don’t have an air conditioner at home, then go to any place with air conditioning such as a movie theatre, a mall, etc.
- If a person has suffered from heat stroke, cool the overheated person while you’re waiting for medical treatment. You could cool the person with a sponge and cool water, spray with a hosepipe, fan while misting the person with cool water, by placing wet or cold towels or ice packs on the person’s neck, head, armpits and groin, put the person into a cool tub of water or under a cool shower.
- Cover the person with damp sheets.
- Move the person indoors or into the shade.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Heat Stroke?
- If you’re suffering from a heat stroke, don’t have any fluids while you wait for medical assistance.
- Never leave your child or anyone in a parked car. This is a very common cause of deaths as when the car is parked in the sun, the temperature in the car can increase by more than 20oF or 6.7oC in just under 10 minutes.
- Avoid strenuous activity, sports or exercising during the hottest parts of the day. However, if you can’t avoid this, then drink plenty of fluids and rest often in the shade. Also, limit your exercising or working in the heat till your body is accustomed to the heat.
What Are The Best Foods For Heat Stroke?
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they have a lot of water in them and eating them can keep you hydrated and also have a cooling effect on your body.
- Drinking a lot of fluids, fresh juice or energy drinks can help to replenish the water levels in the body.
- Include healthy protein sources of food like pulses, beans, nuts, etc. as they help to regulate the blood sugar levels and prevent heat strokes.
- Buttermilk and coconut water are excellent for heat stroke. Buttermilk contains good probiotics that help to replenish the essential minerals and vitamins that may be lost due to sweating excessively and coconut water helps to rehydrate your body by balancing the electrolytes.
What Are The Worst Foods For Heat Stroke?
- Avoid salty foods, as excess sodium can hinder the regular sweat production in the body.
- Don’t drink and sugar-filled or alcoholic beverages to rehydrate yourself in case of a heat stroke, as these drinks may interfere with the ability of the body to control the temperature. Also, drinking cold drinks may cause stomach cramps.
- Avoid fried foods, cured meat, warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, garlic, cayenne pepper, etc., and heat-producing vegetables like mustard greens, raw beets, raw ginger, horseradish, etc. as these foods produce heat in the body and worsen the symptoms of heat stroke.
What Are The Medicines For Heat Stroke?
What Are The Tips To Manage Heat Stroke?
There are many home remedies for heat stroke. Here are some of them:
- Plums are very good for heat stroke as they are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects. They help to soothe the internal inflammation that may be caused due to a heat stroke. And since plums have high water content, they are hydrating too. Soaking plums in water, mashing, straining and drinking the juice helps to calm the body and is a wonderful remedy for heat stroke.
- Onion juice is an excellent remedy for heat stroke. Apply some onion juice on the chest and behind the ears to bring down the body temperature. Eating raw onion or onions in chutneys, salads, etc. can help to cool your system. Roasting onions with honey and cumin and consumed can also be very beneficial in the case of heat stroke.
- Tamarind is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes. Soaking tamarind water in hot water and drinking the strained juice with some sugar helps to lower the body temperature.
- Extracting the juice of mint or coriander leaves, adding a pinch of sugar and drinking it can help to bring down the body temperature and is beneficial for heat stroke.
- Soaking a handful of fennel seeds in water overnight and drinking the water can help to cool the body and also prevent heat stroke.
- Adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar in water or to fruit juice can help to replenish the electrolytes and minerals lost by the body due to sweating.
- Aloe Vera juice is very high in minerals and vitamins and can help the body to adapt to the external conditions and helps to prevent heat stroke.
- Mixing some sandalwood paste in water and applying it to your chest and forehead can help to bring down the body temperature as sandalwood has cooling properties. You can also massage sandalwood oil on the forehead for relief from heat stroke.