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Be Aware of Heat Stroke

By Nancy Buthman APRN

When the body is getting overheated the first signs you see are muscle cramps and weakness, exhaustion, and heavy sweating.

Heat Stroke occurs when the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees (105 for children) and sweating stops. This means the body has lost the ability to control your temperature. Mental changes start to occur such as confusion, disorientation, and agitation. Other common symptoms include nausea, headache, slurred speech and fainting. The skin may be red, hot and dry. The heart beats fast in an attempt to cool the body. Breathing is rapid and shallow.

Untreated Heat Stroke can damage internal organs. Damage gets worse the longer treatment is delayed. It is a medical emergency.

So what should you do?

Dial 911 Immediately

Get the person in the shade or indoors. Remove excess clothing. Cool the person by whatever means available. Spray water on the patient, cover with water soaked cloths, turn on a fan.  Stay with the person until help gets there.

The very young and those over 65 or pregnant are more susceptible to Heat Stroke but it can happen to anyone even strong, young athletes. Risk factors in very hot weather include outside activities, no air conditioning, chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease, obesity, sedentary life style, history of previous stroke. Certain medicines may be a risk factor-check with your doctor.

How do you prevent Heat Stroke from happening? Wear loose, light weight clothing. This allows the sweat to evaporate. Drink lots of fluids other than alcohol. Use sun screen, a wide brim hat and sun glasses. If you are doing strenuous activity in hot weather be sure to stop and cool off frequently. Don’t leave anyone in a hot car. If you’re in a new place or traveling to hot climates take time to get used to the weather before doing outside activities.

Recognize Heat Stroke’s early signs of muscle cramps, exhaustion and heavy sweating and get cooled off. It could be your life.