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The Effect of Heatstroke on Your Health and How to Prevent It

Last updated July. 05, 2019


Discussions about temperature issues normally focus on comfort. At home and in workplaces, temperature issues are addressed because we need to stay cool and comfortable in order to be productive.

While the high-temperature condition makes us uncomfortable, extreme temperature conditions that are not addressed can cause serious health issues.

Heatstroke is a dangerous conditions that can result from extreme temperature.


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What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a medical condition that results from the overheating of the body.

It is considered the most serious form of heat injury and results from prolonged exposure to high temperature or physical exertion when the temperature is too high.

Heatstroke is considered a medical emergency: it needs to be treated immediately to save some important organs in the body like the brain, heart, and kidney from damages. The condition can be fatal if adequate care is not provided in time.

As you would expect, heatstroke is a condition that is most common during the summer. It can occur when the core body temperature rises above 40.50C (104 F).

It is most common when exposed to a high-temperature environment is accompanied by dehydration. Physical exertion at this point will also contribute significantly.

In the presence of all or some of the factors mentioned above, it is common for the body’s temperature control system to fail.

When this happens, the core body temperature will keep rising. Above 40.50C (104 F), organ functioning will be impaired.

The risk of serious complication is high when medical care is not provided immediately.


What Heatstroke Does To the Body

As mentioned above, heatstroke can have a serious effect on your health. The major ways it can affect the body are:

1. Vital Organ Damage

When the body’s temperature control system fails, body function is seriously impaired, which is why the condition is called heatstroke (or sunstroke).

Most of the important organs in the body can be affected by this condition including the brain, heart, and kidney.

There is a risk of permanent damage to some of these vital organs if the situation is not arrested in time.


2. Death

It has already been mentioned that heatstroke can be fatal. It is important that we stress the point again.

Without prompt and adequate medical intervention, heatstroke can lead to death.

It is important to prevent it, in the first place. Once the symptoms are noticed, there is a need to seek medical help.


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Symptoms of Heatstroke

Recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke in time and taking important measures can prevent complications. Here are signs and symptoms to watch out for:


1. High Body Temperature

If you notice elevated body temperature beyond what you are used to, it can be a sign of heatstroke. It is the major characteristic of the condition.


2. Flushed Skin

As the body becomes hotter, the skin may turn red. This is a clear sign of a serious problem.


3. Lack of Sweating

If there is a lack of sweating in spite of the body getting uncontrollably hot, it may be a sign of heatstroke. The skin may also feel dry or slightly moist.


4. Altered Mental State or Behaviour

Heatstroke can also cause alteration of the mental state or behaviour. Agitation, confusion, delirium, irritability, and slurred speech can all be signs of heatstroke.


5. Muscle Weakness or Cramps

The muscle can also be affected by heatstroke. This will manifest in the form of muscle weakness and cramps as the body temperature continues to rise.


6. Nausea and Vomiting

If you are feeling sick to your stomach or actually vomiting when the temperature is high, it can be a symptom of heatstroke.


7. Rapid Breathing

Another major sign of heatstroke is rapid breathing that is also shallow.


8. Racing Heart Rate

When your body temperature control system is failing as a result of heat, there will be more pressure on the heart. This can result in racing heart rate. It is a clear sign that you need help.


9. Headache

Headache is another common symptom of heatstroke. Throbbing headache during extreme temperature conditions should never be ignored.


10. Seizures

Seizure is one of the most serious symptoms of heatstroke. It is important to seek help before things get to this stage.


11. Unconsciousness

Fainting and unconsciousness are serious symptoms of heatstroke. You don’t have to wait till things get to this stage as it can be very dangerous.


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How to prevent heat stroke

With all the complications that can result from heatstroke, it is important that you prevent the condition in the first place.

There are some measures you can take to stay safe and minimize the possibility of heatstroke even in extreme temperature conditions. Here are the most important things you can do:


1. Cool Your Environment during the Hot Season

This is one of the surest ways to minimize your risk. Keep your environment cool and the air circulating. This can be achieved with an air cooler in both indoor and outdoor spaces.


2. Protect Against Sunburn

Sunburn will affect your body’s ability to cool. You need to protect yourself with a sunscreen that offers a sun protection factor of 30 or more. You can also use accessories like a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself outdoors.


3. Sitting in a Parked Cars

It is very dangerous to stay inside a parked car; avoid that. Also, do not leave anyone or your pet inside a parked car during the summer.


4. Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

You can also prevent heatstroke by wearing the right kind of clothing. Light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres will be great.


5. Stay Hydrated

You need to stay hydrated at all times. When the temperature situation becomes an issue, make sure you drink extra fluid to stay hydrated.


6. Minimize Physical Activities When It Is Too Hot

Physical exertion is one of the major factors that can cause heatstroke. You need to minimize physical activities when the temperature condition is high. Physical work and exercises should be checked.


7. Improve Your Timing

You should plan your activities more during the height of the summer.

Perform your physical tasks when the temperature condition is not too high. Take adequate rest and enough fluid during the hottest hours.


8. Be Careful With Some Medications

There are some medications that can affect your body’s ability to dissipate heat. Let your doctor know if you have heat-related problems.


9. Take Extra Caution If You Are At Increased Risk

Aged people, babies and young children, pregnant and nursing mothers, people involved in physical jobs, and people using certain medications are at higher risk of heatstroke. If you are at risk, be more careful in the summer.  


10. Monitor the Colour of Your Urine

Darker urine can be a sign of dehydration. When the temperature condition is getting too high, don’t leave anything to chance. Monitor your urine colour and rehydrate if you fill you need it.

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can be fatal if prompt and adequate medical care is not provided.

It can cause organ damages and lead to death in extreme cases. It is important to take steps to prevent it.

By keeping your environment cool and well aerated, the chances of suffering heat stroke can be minimized.

The other tips provided above can all be efficient. You should also watch out for the signs and symptoms of heatstroke so that medical care can be obtained in time to prevent complications.

If you have any further questions, contact us and we would be happy to help you.

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