The days when one could sleep without air-condition are over, well, at least for those who can afford to pay a high electricity bill. Those who can’t, have to rely on the breeze provided by the fan to cool their days and nights. Without a doubt, during this time of the year, the heat is unbearable and while most of us look forward to the days at the beach and fun in the sun, the heat also brings along negative experiences, including heat-related illness. During a heat wave, it's important to know and be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of these illnesses. There are different types of heat-related illnesses, ranging from those that cause temporary discomfort to the generally fatal condition known as heat stroke which we take a look at tonight.
Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical symptoms including changes in the nervous system function. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two other forms of hyperthermia that are less severe, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated.
Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as sun stroke. The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises, sometimes up to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher.
Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise. Heat stroke is not the same as a stroke. Stroke is the general term used to describe decreased oxygen flow to an area of the brain.
Those most susceptible (at risk) individuals to heat strokes include: Infants, the elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to dehydration and heat strokes), athletes, and individuals who work outside and physically exert themselves under the sun.
So how to avoid heat stroke? The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
Of note is that if you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, drink plenty of fluids (such as water and sports drinks), but avoid alcohol, caffeine (including soft drinks and tea), and tea which may lead to dehydration. Your body will need replenishment of electrolytes (such as sodium) as well as fluids if you sweat excessively or perform vigorous activity in the sunlight for prolonged periods.
It is also advised that one takes frequent breaks to hydrate. Wear hats and light-colored, lightweight, loose clothes. Keep cars locked when not in use and never, ever, leave infants or children unattended in a locked car.
Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke mainly affects people over age 50, it also takes a toll on healthy young athletes.
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