Heat Stroke FAQs

Heat Stroke FAQs

Enjoying the outdoors is great, but prolonged exposure to heat can lead to heat exhaustion or worse still heat stroke—a more heat-related severe condition. Learning to recognize the warning signs for the heatstroke will go a long way in determining if you need a walk in a clinic near you or emergency assistance.

What is the Difference Between Heat Exhaustion and Stroke?

Both of these conditions occur due to overexposure to extremely hot weather, but they manifest differently.

  • Heat exhaustion 

Heat exhaustion is a less serious form of heatstroke, and it is usually the first to occur when you stay for long under the sun. If left untreated, exhaustion can progress to heatstroke.

Resting and rehydrating can help lower the effects of heat exhaustion. If your symptoms don’t improve, then go to the nearest emergency room for treatment to prevent progression to heatstroke.

  • Heatstroke

Heat or sunstroke is a severe illness that causes an increase in body temperature to about 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. It is a medical emergency and should be treated as such because high body temperatures can be life-threatening and cause organ damage. Taking the necessary steps to bring down the body temperature will help prevent damage to your organs.

There are two types of heatstroke, and they occur differently. We have exertional, which occurs in people who can longer adapt to a rise in temperature when they are exercising. Exertional heat stroke happens within a few hours and is common in people who spend a lot of time outdoors. 

Non-exertional affects older adults, infants, and people with chronic illness as they cannot adapt to increasing environment temperatures. Non-exertional heat stroke is common during the extreme heatwaves but takes time for it to develop.

Heatstroke can also occur when you spend a lot of time in a closed car. Remember, an increase in outdoor temperature rises the temperature in the automobile significantly quickly. 

Who is at Risk of Heat Stroke?

Although extreme weather can cause heat exhaustion on anyone, certain people are more predisposed. Older adults above 65 years, infants, children below four years, obese and overweight people, and people who have chronic illnesses are at a higher risk.

What Happens When You Are Exposed to Extreme Temperatures?

The human body normally cools itself through sweat. However, when the body can’t produce sweat, it can cause the system to be overloaded. Several factors, such as age, fever, dehydration, and poor circulation, will affect the body cooling system resulting in increased body temperatures that can damage your brain and other body organs. 

What Are the Warning Signs?

Warning signs of heatstroke include:

  • Extreme body temperature
  • Rapid pulse
  • Red and dry skin
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Confusion

How can you recognize heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion signs include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Paleness
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Fainting

What to Do When You Notice the Warning Signs

The goal of first aid is to prevent organ damage, so if you notice any of the warning signs mentioned above, the visit an ER near you or call for emergency assistance if the symptoms are severe, and as you wait to begin to do the following:

  • Get the person in a serene environment
  • Cool the body using any means possible such as ice bath, wrap them in a cold and wet sheet, fan them vigorously or sponge the body with cold water.
  • Monitor the body temperature using a rectal thermometer until the temperature drops to 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Don’t give the patient alcohol.

If the emergency response team is delaying, call our ER for further instructions on what to do as you wait.

How Can You Prevent Heat Stroke?

Heatstroke is preventable, with these tips:

  • Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing
  • Drink water to stay hydrated
  • Don’t stay in a closed car, or leave children or pets in the car
  • Prevent sunburns with sunscreen and wear sunglasses
  • Avoid strenuous activities during hot days

Don’t Take Chances

Heatstroke is a life-threatening illness and, if not addresses with urgency, can cause damage to your body organs. Therefore, if you notice any of the warning signs, call our Express ER in Abilene 24-hour emergency clinic for treatment. 

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