Heatstroke? Watch out for these signs

Postdate: 23 July 2018

Heat stroke or sunstroke is a life-threatening condition, provoked by our friend, the radiant Sun. Without simple preparation, it can turn a hot summer’s day into a nightmare. Read here what actions you should take.

To keep your body temperature stable at around 37C, your body needs to take corrective actions. When does this become difficult?

  • It is so hot outside that your body heat can no longer be reduced by radiation.
  • It is so humid and sticky that even heavy perspiration no longer cools you down enough.
  • You unintentionally help the nasty outside circumstances by doing strenuous exercise out in the hot sun.

Your core body temperature reaches over 40C by this heating process, and within a very short time blocks normal functioning of the vital organs. It starts with your heart having to make every effort to carry heat outwards into the skin. The heart pumps and pumps to distribute more blood. Especially the heart rate increases significantly.

There must be more blood flow to the skin. More heat must be lost. The critical temperature at which the heart can still save the situation lies between 41.6C and 42C. At least, if this stress situation lasts no more than one to eight hours. Above these limits, the body stays overheated, and this can lead to unconsciousness and brain damage.

A number of factors can increase the risk of heat stroke:

  • Dehydration due to not drinking enough water.
  • Being overweight which means that the body produces more heat and is able to cool down less effectively.
  • Poor sleep which means you perspire less.
  • Inability to adapt to the heat.
  • A history of previous sunstroke.

What should you do?

Sun or heat stroke actually starts quite slowly. You will initially feel overcome by the heat. You will become dehydrated quickly, get thirsty, and become light headed. Then you will get headaches and feel that you need to go and lie down. What you will often do instinctively is to find some shade and a drink. Rest makes you feel better.

By ignoring these signals, this situation can get into a downward spiral and into heat stroke. Fast transport to a hospital can be life-saving. Don't let it get to this point: drink, take it easy and don’t exercise in full sun. Find a nice shady spot and enjoy the beautiful day.

body temperature     heat     heatstroke     measures     signals     summer    

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