Heatstroke is a bit of a silent killer. It creeps up on you like some monster in a horror film, and then BAM! You feel like death warmed up.
Usually, Heatstroke affects the young, up to the age of about 18, and those in their 50’s and over. However, healthy young adults can also succumb to Heatstroke without even knowing it’s about to happen until it’s too late.
In Malaga, Spain, more junior police officer who are on the beat in summer spend more time getting people into bars or cool environments and getting them water than they actually do fighting crime. They also routinely contact medical services for the more serious cases.
The main symptoms of heatstroke are;
Skin is hot to touch (by someone else)
Being unable to keep food down/loss of appetite
In severe cases a Coma.
Random fact, even alcoholics that succumb to heatstroke lose their appetite for alcohol.
You don’t have to be in the sun to get heatstroke, but sun stroke and heatstroke are one and the same thing. Just one is caused directly by the sun, the other by the atmosphere, such as a hot bedroom or office building.
Both are caused when the body is dehydrated due to not taking in enough water, meaning the sweating mechanism the body naturally does to cool down won’t work. You will also find you get muscle cramps due to lack of fluids in the system.
Due to lack of sweating the body’s core temperature will rise until it reaches critical level. The normal temperature of a human is around 37.5C. Anything higher than 38C is deemed a mild fever, 38.5C is deemed moderate to severe illness and 40C+ is deemed to be critical.
If you or someone you know gets heatstroke, the first thing you should do is submerge them in a cold bath or shower. This will immediately start the cooling process. In young healthy young adults and adults, ice packs may also be used on the under arms, groin and wrists. Do not use ice on the Elderly or those with chronic conditions.
Ensure that the person drinks plenty of water while submerged, this will start the cooling process on the inside, which technically means the two will meet in the middle, and halving the time it takes. The water should be cold, but not too cold, as this can induce vomiting, and the person should sip regularly as oppose to taking huge gulps.
Wetting the person’s hair and scalp can also help as most heat is lost through the head and having them leave their hair wet to keep the head cool and regularly rinsing the hair in cool water.
Avoiding heatstroke is best done by wearing loose, light coloured clothing, hats and sun cream. Also, use the sun responsibly. You want to tan, not burn to a crisp and end up in hospital for 4 days while they pump you full of saline to get your salt levels back up.
When you have heatstroke, you will also find you’ll have vivid dreams and your sleep is interrupted. If this is the case, each time you wake up, have some water, and if it is dark outside, rinse your face, hair, neck, underarms, chest and torso with cool water and take 5 – 15 minutes to get some fresh air in the cooler night air.
By the time you get back into bed, you should be cool enough to sleep again. Also, sleep with a fan directed at you. If you have a partner in the bed with you, keep your distance, as body heat will only prolong the heat stroke.