Signs and Treatment for Heat Stroke: How to Play It Safe When the Weather Gets Hot

Do you know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion? Do you know what to do if you see these symptoms exhibited in someone? Whether you’re enjoying an outing with your family or simply out in your garden, it’s important to know the signs and treatment for heat stroke. Here are some tips on how to play it safe when the weather gets hot.

1. Heat Exhaustion – Causes and Signs

Heat exhaustion is different from heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, but heat stroke doesn’t lead to heat exhaustion. So first, let’s take a look at some of the causes and signs of heat exhaustion.

Dehydration

Despite the term “heat exhaustion,” sources are clear that the number one cause of heat exhaustion is dehydration. However, dehydration can occur at any temperature if you don’t drink enough. What makes heat exhaustion unlike other forms of dehydration is that it starts with sweating. When you don’t replace the fluids and electrolytes (salts) lost in your sweat, dehydration and heat exhaustion can occur – even if you are drinking fluids. It’s easy not to drink enough, or not drink the right kind of liquid.

Signs and Symptoms

Heat exhaustion is characterized by:

* Excessive thirst
* Nausea
* Feeling lightheaded and/or dizzy
* Headache
* Muscle cramps
* Dark, concentrated urine

Treatment

A person experiencing heat exhaustion needs treatment right away. Even if you seek medical help (which is a good idea), you need to take action immediately to prevent the more dangerous heat stroke. Here are some steps you can:

* Get the person to the coolest possible area. If you’re outdoors, go for shade; if you have access to air conditioning, get that person to an air conditioned area as soon as possible. An air conditioned vehicle is fine, as long as it’s cooled down first.

* Rehydrate with appropriate fluids, especially water and “sports” drinks. If you don’t have any sports drinks, watered-down fruit juice with a pinch of salt or baking soda in it can help. Try to give fluids slowly to avoid vomiting and nausea.

* Allow that person to rest and not go back out into the sun for the rest of the day.

2. Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion; heat stroke can be fatal. Heat stroke occurs when the body can’t cool and hydrate itself in excessive heat during long periods of time. During heat stroke, a person’s core body temperature can rise above 105 degrees F. If you see any of these signs of heat stroke, call 911 and take action while you wait for help to arrive. Here are some of the signs:

* Headache (severe)
* Pallor or hot, red skin
* Rapid pulse
* Dizziness
* Muscle cramps
* Nausea and/or vomiting
* “Panting” or shallow, rapid breathing
* Seizures
* Confusion
* Loss of consciousness

Take action right away:

* Get the victim to an air-conditioned area.

* Use ice or cold, wet cloths on the victim’s skin (especially on the head, armpits, back, and groin areas) to bring down body temperature. Put them in a cool bath or shower if one is available.

* If victim in conscious, have him or her drink slowly – sources suggest half a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

* Remove unnecessary clothing and have the victim lie down.

Hopefully, these tips will help you enjoy your summer without the dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

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