Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat related problems here in the Philippines, and it is really a life threatening emergency. It is the effect of long, extreme exposure to the sun, exercise or heavy work in hot environments combined with inadequate fluid intake wherein a person does not sweat enough to lower body temperature.
The elderly, young children, people who are obese, person, who work outdoors and people born with an impaired ability to sweat are at high risk of heatstroke – other risk factors include dehydration, alcohol use, cardiovascular disease and those on certain types of medications.
It usually happens during summertime where people have long exposure to hot temperature it can also be caused by working in an extremely hot environment, a high fever associated with illness, or exercising too much, overdressing, over eating can also be a contributing factors. The symptoms of heatstroke are hot – dry skin, no sweating, flushing, shallow breathing, rapid-weak pulse and body temperature over 40oC. Emergency medical treatment is necessary and may give first aid to suppress the heatstroke.
* Move the person to a shady area.
* Remove the person’s clothing.
* Cover the person with a wet sheet and keep the sheet wet for cooling from evaporation.
* Sponge down the body, especially the head, with cool water.
* Continue giving first aid until body temperature drops to 38.5oC or until the body feels cool to be touch.
* If the person is conscious, let him sip water, fruit juice or soft drink. Intravenous fluids are often necessary to compensate for fluid and electrolyte loss. Bed rest is generally advised and body temperature may fluctuate abnormally for weeks after heatstroke.
Be wise, avoid heatstroke by applying some preventive measures:
* Stay out of the hot sun, and limit the time of your exposure in hot environments.
* Wear light-colored, and loose fitting clothing in the summer.
* Drink extra water when you sweat, even if you’re not thirsty.
* Open windows or use a fan or air conditioner to improve air circulation.
* Limit food intake to small meals and limit alcohol intake when it is very hot.
* Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses and using an umbrella.
If you live in a hot climate and have a chronic condition, talk to your physician about extra precautions you can take to protect yourself against “Heatstroke”.
By: Lalaine M. Navata
DepEd – Public Health Nurse