Global warming and rising temperatures have made heat exhaustion and strokes, as ordinary as a common cold. But a heat stroke, unlike a common cold, can have very serious consequences and thus, requires immediate treatment. To know more on heat stroke treatment, read on…
Heat stroke, also known as sun stroke, is caused when the body’s temperature exceeds the normal level, i.e. becomes more than 101.3-102.2°F, as against 98.6°F, which is the ideal body temperature. This can happen due to numerous reasons. The first and the foremost reason is exposure to extremely hot conditions, like direct sunlight for a very long time. The second reason is dehydration, i.e. loss of fluids in the body, which leads to the loss of required nutrients from the body. Mild cases can be treated at home itself. Let’s look at the symptoms of heat stroke, before moving on to the treatment methods.
Heat stroke may produce all or some of the symptoms like headaches, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, body fatigue, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain and dry skin. Occasional patients may also face certain neurological symptoms, like hallucinations and seizures. A person suffering from heat stroke, usually faints. The patient has low blood pressure, high body temperature and an accelerated pulse rate. A very high temperature can cause damage to the organs of the body. Low blood pressure caused due to dehydration can lead to circulatory failure. Thus, it should be treated properly and on time or it may prove to be fatal.
The treatment should be carried out, in such a way that it creates the following conditions:
- Cools the patient
- Hydrates the patient
- Restores normal blood flow
- Restores normal body temperature
A person experiencing mild symptoms can be treated at home itself. But, if the person faints or the symptoms become worse, a doctor is recommended. In any case, the following step-by-step procedure should be adopted to provide treatment.
Step 1: Provide a Comfortable Environment
Remove the person away from the sunlight, to a cool, indoor area. Make him lie down on a comfortable bed. Remove his clothes or at least see to it that they are not tight. Try to make him as comfortable as possible.
Step 2: Lower the Body Temperature
This can be done by bathing the person with cold water. If he is unconscious, put water on his face and body and blow fan over his face. If it’s a severe case of heat stroke and he is taken to a hospital, even the doctor will use certain cooling techniques to restore the body’s normal temperature. For example, he may use the evaporation technique, in which ice packs are placed all over a patient’s body, especially in the armpits and the groin of the patient. Water is used to keep the body wet and fans are blown all over it. The same procedure can be followed at home.
Step 3: Provide Fluids
Give the person water to drink. If possible, give him cool beverages like a sports drinks or a fruit juice, to make up for the lost nutrients. Remember not to give tea, coffee or soft drinks, as they contain caffeine, which can aggravate the situation. In severe cases, the doctor uses intravenous therapy or IV therapy to give the patients fluids, as the patient might not be in a condition to take them orally. Intravenous therapy is the quickest way to provide the body with fluids, and is used to inject fluids directly into a patient’s vein and thus, overcome dehydration.
Step 4: Aftercare
To care for a patient after he has recovered, is as important, as the treatment for heat stroke. Once the patient has recovered, he should avoid going into the sun for a few days. He should also refrain from all kinds of activities that cause physical stress. He should take a balanced diet and drink 8-10 glasses of water everyday. The diet too should be such that it provides the body with vitamins, minerals and proteins that were lost due to the stroke. So it is recommended that the patient eats lots of vegetables and fruits.
Anybody can suffer from a heat stroke, if exposed to extreme hot conditions. Even, healthy individuals like people who are into sports and athletes are quite susceptible to it, so knowledge about the treatment methods is always handy. However, a doctor should be called immediately, if the symptoms worsen. Only a doctor can properly monitor the body temperature and see to it that it does not fall below a particular limit.