August: Heat Stroke – A Dangerous and Avoidable Condition
During the hot summer months in southern
Exertional heat stroke occurs when people are exercising in excessively warm conditions and they become overheated to the point where their body cannot cool down effectively.
Classic heat stroke usually affects the very young and elderly. Older people are especially vulnerable since they are less able to notice the heat and their bodies do not cool down efficiently.
Some of the most common symptoms are: flushed skin, fever of 106 degrees or higher, seizures, headache, rapid pulse, and unconsciousness. As the body and brain heat, disorientation and confusion can also occur.
Too much clothing, dehydration and overexposure to very warm temperatures can be a dangerous combination.
Prevention and Treatment:
The best course of action is to prevent heat stroke in the first place. By staying in cool ventilated places out of the hot sun and assuring proper fluid intake (water is best), most people at risk can prevent heat stroke. Remember, the very young and elderly are most vulnerable, so using an umbrella to avoid the sun and staying in doors during very hot days are good suggestions. If air-conditioning is not available, use fans to keep air circulating.
By: Linda Doerflein, RN, BS