Heatstroke is a severe condition due to overheating of the body. It is caused by prolonged physical exertion that causes an increase in the body temperature above 104 F. If not treated properly, it can damage the brain, kidneys, heart and the muscles.
Symptoms of heatstroke
- Changes in the mental state such as agitation, confusion, slurred speech, delirium, irritability, seizures and coma
- High temperature of the body at 104 F or higher.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breathing becomes rapid or shallow
- Increase in the pulse rate due to heat stress and gives excessive burden on the heart
- The skin feels hot and dry when touched.
- The skin becomes red when the temperature in the body increases.
- Throbbing headache
Causes of heatstroke
- Prolonged exposure to hot and humid weather for 2-3 days. It usually happens among the elderly and those with chronic illness.
- Performing intense physical activities under hot weather
- Wearing excessive clothing that prevents sweats from evaporating
- Drinking excessive alcohol which can affect the ability of the body to regulate body temperature.
- Move the affected person out of the sun into a shaded or an air-conditioned room to cool the person immediately and remove unnecessary clothing. You can also fan the person.
- Cover the person with a damp sheet big enough to cover the neck up to the toes or spray cool water on the body.
- Apply ice packs on the body especially under the armpits, on the groin, back and neck. These areas have abundant blood vessels near the skin and applying an ice pack on these areas promotes fast cooling of the body.
- Take a bath in a cold shower or bathtub filled with cold water to cool down the body. Another option is take a soak in a cool pond, lake or stream or cold water from the hose can also be used.
- Provide plenty of fluids such as sports drinks to provide fluids and salt that the body needs to recover.
The details posted on this page on heatstroke is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage heatstroke, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.