Summer Heat and Hyperthermia: Heat Stroke Prevention Tips
Summer is here and the temperature is rising and with the rising heat the incidents of heat related health issues will increase. Heat stroke occures from over exposure to the sun and hot weather conditions. Heat stroke is more common among people 50 years old or older due to general health issues associated with ageing.
Hyperthermia is caused by the body's inability to regulate its own temperature. Exposure to high heat environments cause the temperature regulating mechanisms of the body to fail causing heat stroke, heat fatigue, heat cramps or heat syncope.
Lifestyle factors including alcohol consumption, low water intake, living in a home without air conditioning, decreased mobility, over dressing and lack of adequate often increase the vurnability for heat stroke.
Health Related Factors of Heat Stroke
Especially common among elders, these are factors associated with increased risk of heperthermia:
- Dehydration, Not drinking enough water
- insufficient sweat glands and impaired blood circulation associated with ageing
- Chronic illness such as heart, lung or kidney disease which increase weakness and fatigue
- High blood pressure accompanied by changes in diet requiring lower salt intake
- Medications that reduce sweating such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and heart medications as well as blood pressure medications.
- Weight issues either extremely overweight or underweight
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Any combination of medications can increase the risk of fatigue, weakness or dehydration. Consult your doctor regarding the side effects of your medications.
Signs of Heat Stroke
- Fainting is one of the first signs of heat stroke.
- High body temperature of 104 or above
- behavior changes such as grouchiness, staggering, confusion or acting strangely
- Dry flussed skin, rapid or slow pulse
- Not sweating
- Acting agitated
- In a coma
What To Do If You Suspect Heat Stroke
- Get out of the heat to a shady or cool spot, if possible find an air conditioned building.
- Call 911 for help
- Encourage cool bath, shower or sponge bath
- Drink fluids, encourage fluids if the person can swallow safely, water or juice are preferred. Do not consume alcohol or caffeine drinks
- Apply cold wet wash cloths to body areas where blood passes near the surface of the skin such as groin, wrists, neck or arm pits