Heat illnesses: Exhaustion and heat stroke

Summer is a much awaited season by many, but it is also the time of the year where heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are likely to occur. Many find summer truly enjoyable with already planned road trips and fun-filled beach escapades, but it is vital to be aware of the danger of the sun.

Even though the sun is the main cause of warm environment, the heat can come from other sources such as machinery as well as equipment in factories, bakeries or even a restaurant kitchen.

What is heat exhaustion?

Areas that have hot and humid conditions can lead to sweating which causes the body to gradually lose salt and water. If this continues, it can lead to the development of heat exhaustion. Once heat exhaustion develops, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Headache, dizziness and confusion
  • Rapid breathing
  • Appetite loss and nausea
  • Sweating with clammy, pale skin
  • Cramps in the legs, arms or abdomen

If any of these symptoms are present, there are measures that must be carried out to help the individual such as the following:

Heat illnesses

Summer is a much awaited season by many, but it is also the time of the year where heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are likely to occur.

  • Transfer the individual to a cool, shaded area and let him/her lie down. Elevate and support the legs to improve the flow of blood to the brain.
  • Provide him/her with plenty of fluids to drink. If there are isotonic beverages on hand or oral rehydration sachets, provide them to the individual to help restore the level of salt in the body to prevent dehydration.
  • Closely monitor the individual and if the condition worsens, call for emergency assistance or bring to the nearest emergency department.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a serious condition that occurs once the body becomes overheated dangerously. It is usually triggered by prolonged exposure to heat. If an individual develops heat stroke, the following symptoms are present:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Hot, flushed and dry skin
  • Confusion and restlessness
  • Rapid deterioration on how the individual responds
  • Body temperature that rises up to 40 degrees Celsius or higher

If any of these are present, it is vital to perform the necessary measures such as the following:

  • Call for emergency assistance as quickly as possible. Transfer the individual to a cool, shaded area and remove the exterior layers of clothing.
  • Cool down the individual by wrapping him/her using a cold, moist sheet until the body temperature starts to fall. Make sure that the sheet is wet by continuously pouring cold water over it. In case a sheet is not available, you can sponge using cold water or fan to bring down the temperature.
  • Carefully monitor the child while waiting for the medical team to arrive on the scene.

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