Heat stroke, what it is and how to avoid it

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Heat stroke
Heat stroke

Due to the high temperatures that we are experiencing in our geography in recent days, the possibility of suffering a heat stroke is much higher than usual.

For this reason, today we will talk about what a heat stroke is, what its symptoms are, how to act against them and, also, how we can prevent them. If you want to know the answers to all these questions, we recommend that you continue reading.

What is heat stroke and how does it occur?

Heat stroke is a fairly common disorder in the summer months, especially due to the rapid onset of heat waves and the sudden increase in temperatures.

When the outside temperature is higher than that of our body, we react with compensatory mechanisms such as sweating, increased hydration and fluid retention. 

woman suffers heat wave

How are these mechanisms activated? Upon detecting a high temperature outside, peripheral vasodilation occurs to facilitate peripheral blood supply and the sweating mechanism is activated to eliminate excess heat in the form of sweat (formed by water and electrolytes). 

The next compensatory mechanisms are increased heart rate to compensate for vasodilation and hypotension. These neutralization mechanisms are physiological and are activated immediately.

When these thermoregulatory mechanisms (sweating, skin vasodilation, fluid retention…) fail, an adverse and undesirable effect occurs that we call heat stroke.  

Therefore, a heat stroke is a disorder caused by excess temperature in the body. It can be caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially above 40ºC or by excessive energy production by our body. 

Even so, there are other factors that favor the appearance of heat stroke, such as, for example, high environmental humidity, excess clothing, dehydration and poor diet, obesity or low weight, etc…

Heat stroke: symptoms and how to deal with them

The symptoms that characterize heat stroke are more severe than those of sunstroke and must be addressed immediately upon detection. If not treated properly, it can lead to multi-organ failure.

Its symptoms are multiple, although the most common are usually: feeling nauseous, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, skin-mucosal pallor, increased respiratory rate, headache and sudden poor general condition, among others.

To prevent it, it is advisable to avoid high temperatures, stay properly hydrated and avoid physical exercise. It is also important to make sure you wear light clothing. It is also convenient to protect ourselves from the sun with sun creams, sunglasses and hats.

help with heat stroke

In case we cannot prevent it, there are a series of recommendations to act against a heat stroke:

  • Search for a shade that protects us from sun exposure.
  • Immersion in water to lower body temperature.
  • Abundant hydration.
  • Remove clothing to facilitate temperature loss.
  • Place the affected person in a safe position.

Even so, the best decision will always be to go immediately to a hospital. The specialists will be in charge of providing the appropriate measures for each patient.