Right after PMDA issued Karachi heatwave alert and, the threat of heatstroke has escalated and so did the panic among masses. People want to know everything about how to prevent heatstroke and keep their bodies cool during extreme temperatures. In this blog, we will list down everything there is you need to know from symptoms to prevention.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a condition that has become a common occurrence in cities like Karachi, Hyderabad, and Lahore where summers are exclusively harsh from May to July. It is caused when your body overheats, due to continuous exposure to heat or extreme physical movement. If not cured or addressed properly, it can result in severe illness or sometimes even demise.
Sun stroke, thermic fever, and heat injury are some of the variants used for this condition.
When the temperature of a human body rises to 40°C or higher and it fails to cool down, they are most likely facing this condition. The affected individual requires immediate treatment, since heatstroke can cause severe damage to your heart, kidneys, and brain.
What are the Symptoms?
Signs and symptoms of a sun stroke are mostly sudden or even develop overtime. The most common heatstroke signs & symptoms are:
- Headache: You may suffer from constant throbbing in your head.
- Flushed Skin: As the temperature of your body increases the colour of your skin will also turn red.
- Rapid Breathing: If the condition worsens, you will face difficulty in breathing.
- Racing Heart Rate: Heat stress puts a considerable amount of pressure on your heart, thus the heart rate increases with the physical exertion.
- Dry Skin: While suffering from a thermic injury, your skin will feel dry.
- Nausea & Vomiting: The pressure on your body may result in vomiting and nausea.
- High Body Temperature: Your body temperature will most probably exceed 40° C.
- Mental state: As the condition deteriorates, so will your mental health. You may feel confused or agitated, you may also suffer from slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures, and coma in extreme condition.
What Causes a Thermic fever?
You can suffer from heatstroke due to many reasons:
- Excess Clothing: Wearing excess clothing does not let the sweat evaporate, and hinders the cooling process of your body.
- Dehydration: If you don’t drink enough water or refill your body with the water lost through sweating, you might suffer from it.
- Physical Exertion: When caused by extreme physical exertion is called an exertional heatstroke. Exercising in high temperatures can lead you to suffer from this condition.
- Heat Exposure : The nonexertional type occurs due to heat exposure for a prolonged time. This leads to a rise in your body heat, mostly presenting itself in older individuals and ones with chronic illness.
Which Individuals are at Higher Risks than Others?
While anyone can suffer from sunstroke, there are certain factors that considerably increase the risk of one suffering from sunstroke.
Young and Old People
The reason why an older person might be at more risk of suffering from this condition is because the capability of one to survive heat is dependent on the strength of your central nervous system.
In this regard, two age groups that are more at risk are the young ones, as their nervous system isn’t fully developed and the old individuals as their system deteriorates with age.
Individuals who regularly take part in strenuous activities during hot weather, such as the military officials, athletes, and labour class are more at risk of heat injury.
A sudden change in temperature does not allow your body to lower its temperature, which leads to a severe heat injury. This may occur during an early heatwave, or travelling to hotter climates.
Certain health conditions lower the inability of your body to deal with other health related conditions. In this regard, chronic, heart or lung diseases, obesity, and other such conditions increase the risk of sunstroke.
Furthermore, there are certain medications that lower your body’s ability to retain water, such as vasoconstrictors and beta blockers etc. If you take such medications, take extra care of yourself and drink plenty of fluids.
In recent studies, heatwaves in South Asia are predicted to occur frequently and worsen in the future if global warming is not properly paid attention to. Commenting on the situation, Moetasim Ashfaq from Oak Ridge National Laboratory said and we quote, “The future looks bad for South Asia, but the worst can be avoided by containing global warming to as low as possible”.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Heatstroke
Heat exhaustion generally occurs in the summer season, due to which they are quite predictable. The best way to prevent this type of heat injury is to stay cool underneath an inverter or a non-inverter air conditioner or an air cooler.
In order to prevent thermic fever, there are certain heatstroke preventions one can take:
- Lightweight Clothes: Wear loose and light clothes, so that excess heat from your body can escape and your body can cool properly.
- Protection from Sun: Due to sunburn, your body loses the ability to cool itself. Avoid coming in direct contact with sunlight. Wear hats, sunglasses and use broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids will help replace the water lost in your body through sweating.
- Greasy Food: Limit the intake of heat generating food, such as meat, eggs etc. You should also lower your salt consumption.
- Caffeine: High level of caffeine can cause dehydration. In order to prevent heat exhaustion, limit the consumption of caffeine containing drinks, such as tea and coffee. However, if you consume such liquids, make sure to keep yourself hydrated.
How to Help Someone with Sunstroke?
If you are noticing the signs and symptoms of thermic injury in a person, make sure to follow the below mentioned heat stroke treatment steps:
- Immerse in Cold Water: One of the most effective ways of curbing the symptoms of sunstroke is to lower the body temperature down to normal. For doing so, there’s no better way than immersing one in ice-cold water.
- Evaporation Techniques: Pour or spray cold water on your body, in order to create an evaporating effect, which lowers the body temperature.
- Use Ice Packs: Another way to lower your body temperature is to put an ice pack on areas of your skin, where the blood vessels are large, for example, neck, back, and armpits.
Note: Heatstroke recovery takes one or two days in a hospital unless the damage was severe, then the days to recovery might vary.
Protecting yourself from the scorching heat in this season is imperative. This is all you need to know about heatstroke, what the causes are, what the heatstroke remedies are and how you can treat it and bring the temperature of your body down to normal.