How to deal with sunstroke?

August 02, 2020

We have entered the month of March but the heat from the sun and hot summer air can already be felt. This indicates that the coming months will only get warmer and we need to be ready to beat the heat. One of the most common and feared condition during summer is sunstroke, also known as heatstroke. A sunstroke is a condition caused by prolonged exposure to heat, which results in excessive rise in body temperature.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate and urgent treatment. This is a condition caused by overheating of the body, caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures of over 1040F or 400C or higher. It requires immediate treatment and if left untreated can damage the brain, muscles and heart and can lead to death. Symptoms occur mainly due to dehydration

Common symptoms are high body temperature, confusion, agitation, irritability, seizures, delirium, slurred speech and finally coma. The skin is hot and dry, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, headache and a rapid heart rate can also occur

Left untreated, or delayed sunstroke can lead to death

Since summer is right around the corner here are some summer tips to avoid sunstroke:

  • As much as possible, stay indoors, in a well ventilated or an air-conditioned building in case of extremely high temperatures.
  • Consume plenty of water and fluids: do not wait till you feel thirsty.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that do not trap heat and helps keep you cool.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down
  • Avoid using the stove or dry heat on an extremely hot day.
  • Acclimate yourself to exercise in hot weather but ensure proper hydration. Exercise moderately to avoid excessive exertion during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more, to protect your skin from sun burns
  • Consume extra fluids in summers to prevent dehydration, like water or fresh fruit juice. However, it is advised to avoid caffeine or alcohol as these substances tend to cause more fluid loss and worsen heat-related illnesses.
  • Try to keep your outdoor activities for cooler times during the day like early mornings or after sunset. Limit your exposure to sun and to its heat, especially during heat waves and hottest hours of the day.
  • Let your living area be cool as well. Leave the windows open at night for fresh air and close the curtains during the day to keep out the heat. Use a fan to maintain air circulation and, if possible, turn on the air conditioner.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car

In case of sunstroke, seek medical help immediately and try to cool down the person:

First aid is important

  • First get the person into the shade
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Cool the person in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, or just sponge with cool water. Switch on the fan or place cold wet towels on the patient’s head, neck and armpits
  • Put in a cool water tub or a cool shower
  • Spray skin with water
  • If patient is able to drink, ensure plenty of fluids are given. Do not have sugary or aerated drinks.
  • Apply ice packs or wet towels to underarms, groin, and back of neck, cheeks, palms and soles of feet

People who are at risk of heatstroke

  • Elderly people and children are more at the risk of heatstroke as their bodies do not manage the temperature variations so effectively. Those who are exposed to excessive exertion without replenishing fluids, especially in hot climate. This can occur suddenly or in those who face prolonged exposure
  • Some medicines affect the body’s ability to stay hydrated and respond to heat: medicines to narrow blood vessels (vasoconstrictors) or diuretics which get rid of sodium and water, or anti hypertensives like beta blockers or antidepressants.

Also, those with health issues like obesity, hypertension, alcoholism, mental illness, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are people more prone to heatstroke and hence they require particular attention.

Home remedies to prevent heat stroke

Since prevention is better than cure, here are also some natural home remedies that one can practice to prevent themselves from heat strokes:

  • Made with raw mangoes and spices, aampanna is a refreshing summer cooler that cools your body.
  • Plums are rich in antioxidants and are extremely hydrating.
  • Buttermilk is a great source of probiotics and replenishes the body with essential vitamins and minerals that may be lost due to excessive sweating.
  • Coconut water is known to naturally balance the electrolytes in the body.

Before summer sets in full swing, knowing your home remedies ensures that the harsh sun does not strike you with the excessive heat. Keep yourself prepared, carry the things necessary and do not let the heat take you over.

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