Heat Stroke: Signs and Treatment
Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke can save your life. In Charlotte’s hot, humid summers, symptoms of heat exhaustion are common. Understanding the signs and knowing what to do are critical to effective treatment and prevention of long-term damage from overheating.
Heat exhaustion is usually a result of dehydration or not having enough salt in the body or both. With the summer heat and outdoor activities that come along with the season, more people fall victim to heat related illnesses. It’s important to stay well hydrated and take frequent breaks in a cool or shady area when engaging in outdoor activities.
Heat stroke is a more severe form of heat exhaustion. When the victim reaches the stage of heat stroke, their temperature is dangerously elevated. They are no longer able to sweat, and their body can no longer regulate its own temperature. A patient suffering from heat stroke needs immediate medical intervention as the condition may be fatal. Damage to the heart, kidneys, and other critical organs is also possible.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
When the body is unable to regulate its own core temperature, a variety of systems begin to shut down. This results in fatigue, excessive sweating, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting, fainting, cramps, and a rapid heartbeat. If the dehydration becomes severe, the victim may lose the ability to sweat, become excessively thirsty, and have dark urine. The best way to treat heat exhaustion is to remove the patient to a shady area. Clothing should be loosened. They should sip cool liquids, preferably water. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks as well as alcohol. If possible, apply icepacks or cool cloths to pulse points, like the armpits, neck, and groin area to help cool the body further. If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.