Sunstroke is life threatening condition in which the body’s heat regulating system fails due to exposure to high temperatures. Sunstroke can occur when the body’s mechanisms to get rid of excess heat are overwhelmed by a very hot or humid environment or strenuous physical activity. This may occur at any age but most common in babies and elderly people, prolonged exposure to high atmospheric temperature, heavy manual work in high temperature, high humidity, preexisting chronic diseases and alcoholism are some of predisposing factors.
Symptoms of sunstroke are hot, dry skin, no sweating. Skin is first flushed, then pale orpurple, hyperventilation, rapid bounding pulse. Body temperature rises rapidly to 40 degree F or higher, headache, muscle cramps, dilated pupils. Signs of mental disorders may include incoherent speech, disorientation and confusion, aggressive speech, agitation and hallucinations, lethargy, stupor, convulsions.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion are weakness and fatigue, tense muscles, nausea, vomiting, pale clammy skin, weak rapid pulse, confusion, normal body temperature, heavy sweating, dizziness or light headiness, fainting, headache, dark yellow urine, diarrhea.
Heat exhaustion can be treated easily. The affected person should rest in a cool place and sip cool, salty drinks until he or she feels comfortable. If heat stroke is suspected, he or she should be admitted to the hospital assoon as possible. Heat related disorders can be largely prevented by avoiding strenuous exertion in the heat of the day, spending as much time as possible in the shade, consuming large quantities of liquids and avoiding alcoholic beverages.
Drink plenty of water whenever you spend a lot of time in the sun or hot environment and before, during and after exercise. Rest during hottest part of day. If you are a sports runner or cyclist you should train in hot conditions if you know that you will face these conditions. Take care to drink adequate fluids while training and do not over do when you start acclimatizing.
Sunstroke is medical emergency. Seek immediate medical help if you or someone else develops any of the heat related symptoms.
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