What is a heat stroke and its Symptoms?

heat stroke

Children and adults over 65 are the most vulnerable to heatstroke. Learn how to identify its symptoms and how you should act to treat it as quickly as possible and avoid serious problems.

Gentle heat is pleasant, but in excess, it can lead to health problems. The human organism works at about 37º and is quite sensitive to external variations. To do this, it has mechanisms that regulate its temperature, such as sweat, and distribute heat through the blood and expel it to the outside. When you suffer a heat stroke, all these mechanisms stop working, the temperature rises, and abundant body fluids are lost. All of this increases the chances of suffering neurological damage and even of dying.

The temperature at which heatstroke can occur varies from person to person. People over 65 and children under six are more vulnerable and tourists who travel from cold areas to warmer countries, to whose type of climate they are not used to.

Also, people with some physical or mental disability, the chronically ill, and heart patients are more likely to suffer from heatstroke.

Symptoms of heatstroke

One of the keys to anticipating its consequences is knowing how to distinguish the most important symptoms that can indicate that someone is suffering from heatstroke. Among the characteristic signs to identify it, we can find:

  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion, disorientation.
  • Excessive sweating at first, with subsequent lack of sweating.
  • Redness and dryness of the skin.
  • Fever with a body temperature of more than 39.4º (reaching 40 and 41º).
  • Inappropriate behavior, such as starting to remove clothes no matter where you are.
  • Fast heartbeat with a weak beat.
  • Headache.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Seizures with convulsions.

Warning signs of heatstroke

In any of the following situations, it is best to go to the nearest health center as quickly as possible to avoid major ills:

  • Confusion or loss of consciousness.
  • Frequent vomiting
  • You feel like you are short of breath or have trouble breathing. 

What to do before a heat stroke

If heat stroke occurs, it is necessary to take into account a series of steps and actions to treat its symptoms as quickly as possible and avoid significant problems:

  • Put the person in a cool place in the shade, and put their feet up. If you continue in the sun, the temperature will not drop and could even rise more.
  • Call the emergency phone.
  • Undress the person and lower the body temperature, placing wet cloth or ice in the armpits or groin.
  • If possible, move the affected person to areas with air conditioning or a fan.
  • If the person has a temperature higher than 40ºC, bathe them with cold water until it reaches 38ºC. At that time, you should stop applying cold to avoid possible hypothermias.
  • Control the temperature every 15 minutes so that if it rises, subject it to colder treatments.

What not to do when faced with a heat stroke

  • Avoid exercise or vigorous activity in the hours of total heat. Older people should stay home during these hours.
  • It is not advisable to remove your shirt if you feel hot and are in the sun. The fabric retains moisture that disappears when we remove it.
  • Never do sports or hard walks alone. Always do it with at least someone else so that one of you can attend to the other in case of heatstroke.
  • Do not overexpose yourself to the sun during the first days that we face high temperatures.
  • Please do not drink alcohol or stimulants, as they increase metabolism and thus body temperature.
  • Avoid fatty foods, and their digestion provides more calories to the body. Also, avoid very hot foods.