By: Dr. Samayug Bhowmik, Bureau Chief, ICN-West Bengal
KOLKATA: Summer is at our doorstep. Apart from several other illnesses, a large number of individuals suffer from Heat stroke every year.However,it is a totally preventable disorder.
Today I will discuss in brief about the same.Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, can be life-threatening,if not treated early.
It is an altered state of the body caused by external overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure or physical exertion during high temperatures. This most serious form occurs when body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.
Heat Stroke requires emergency treatment and if untreated can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. If there is delay in treatment, it may also lead to death.
Although children and adults over 65 years of age are more susceptible to it but heat stroke may strike any age.
Conditions that might cause Heat Stroke :
1. Wearing of skin tight garment.
2. Consumption of alcoholic drinks may increase the probability.
3. Consuming Amphetamines or Cocaine.
4. Indulging in hectic sport activities, swimming and Marathon race in summer.
5. Dehydration due to any illness or due to less fluid intake.
6. Patients’ with diseases of heart or lung.
7. Patients’ taking daily course of medicines for specific illnesses.
8. Sitting inside a car parked in the sun for long.
When to suspect heat stroke in a person:
1. High body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher with headache or throbbing
2. Altered mental state or altered behavioral pattern e.g. confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, may be associated with or without twitching of muscles even a state of near or full unconsciousness.
3. The skin of the patient may look flushed, will feel hot and dry or little moist to touch.
4. There may be vomiting.
5. His/Her breathing may become rapid .If you are able to count his/ her pulse, you will get significant rapid beats. ((Normal 60-100 beats/ min.)
If any one or a few of the above symptoms appear in a hot, humid climate to anybody, one should consult the nearest doctor or rush to nearest hospital emergency at the earliest.
In the meantime,what to do
Take immediate action to cool the overheated person. For this :-
1. Shift the victim into the shade or an indoor area.
2. Remove excess clothing.
3. Cool the person either by putting him/her in a cool bathtub of water or in a cool shower if possible or repeatedly sponge with cold water.
4. Switch on the fan .
5. Place ice packs or wet towels soaked with cool/ice cold water on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.
6. If the victim is conscious, give him cool water and ORS.
How to prevent or avoid Heat Stroke :
1. Wear loose cotton garments.
2. Protect yourself from direct exposure to the sunlight specially in the afternoon.
3. Do not sit or allow anyone to sit inside a parked car in broad daylight.
4. If any strenuous or sporting activity in hot weather becomes unavoidable, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot.
5. Try to schedule rigorous exercise or physical activities in the early morning or late evening hours of the day.
6. If you are under any medication daily, take prior advice from your doctor before going to a place having high temperature.
Remember my dear readers, as the proverb says, “ Prevention is better than cure.”