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MUST KNOW SIGNS OF A HEAT STROKE

Let’s clear something right off the bat. Heat exhaustion is not the same thing as a heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is usually not something serious if the body can cool down within 30 minutes or so. However, a persistently raised body temperature (above 38C) resulting from exposure to heat or excessive physical exertion is termed as a heat stroke. Pakistan has just experienced one of the worst heat waves. Talk to your doctor about how you can beat the heat or better yet, book an appointment with doctor online and learn how you can prevent a heat stroke.

The rise in body temperature is also known as ‘hyperthermia’. If not treated quickly and aggressively it could be fatal. A heat stroke is a medical emergency. Most common symptoms of a heat stroke are confusion, agitation, disorientation and altered consciousness. If you experience any of these symptoms or see someone else call your local emergency number. If you are unable to get help, download the online doctor app, My live doctors on your smartphone and find doctors online anywhere in Pakistan to help you manage a heat stroke until you reach a hospital.

When does a heat stroke occur?

Heat stroke, a form of hyperthermia or heat-related illness, refers to an elevated body temperature associated with physical symptoms. The nervous system is also affected in the process. A heat stroke is not the same as ‘stroke’ in which there is decreased blood flow to the brain. A heat stroke is sometimes also called a sun stroke.

Less severe forms of hyperthermia are heat cramps and heat exhaustion, but a heat stroke is a true medical emergency that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Severe hyperthermia is defined as a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher.

What causes a heat stroke?

Normally, the body generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to release the heat by radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, exposure to extreme heat, high humidity, or strenuous and excessive physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat effectively, as a result of which the body temperature rises. Sometimes up to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher. Another important factor besides heat exposure that can increase the risk of getting a heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.

Who is at risk of getting a heat stroke?

There are certain people who are more susceptible (at risk) to heat stroke:

  • Infants
  • The elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to dehydration and heat strokes)
  • Athletes
  • People who work outside and physically exert themselves under the sun
  • Infants, children, or pets left in cars.

If you or someone you know belongs to one of these groups and is more prone to getting a heat stroke, protect them by getting expert medical advice. Skip the waiting room and long waiting hours. Book appointment with a doctor online and get guidance at home. 

How can I find the best online physician?

Online health services like My live doctors comprises of a team of qualified health professionals who work around the clock to serve patients across Pakistan. People living in rural and remote areas who don’t have access to quality healthcare are now able to contact online doctors from their villages to get medical advice and get treated for everyday health problems as well. 

Download the My live doctors app to book a tele-appointment with doctor online. 

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion

Here are some signs of heat exhaustion that you should look out for. If the body is cooled down aat this stage, it is less likely to progress to heat stroke.

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • headache
  • muscle cramps and aches
  • dizziness
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • feeling very thirsty
  • increased pulse

The symptoms of heat exhaustion in children and adults are usually the same but children may seem to go limp and floppy. 

If someone has heat exhaustion, the body needs to cool down. However, a heat stroke may occur before you have had the chance to cool down. Here are the must-know signs of a heat stroke.

  • high body temperature
  • the absence of sweating
  • hot red or flushed dry skin
  • rapid pulse
  • difficulty breathing
  • strange behavior
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • disorientation
  • seizure
  • coma

Request a tele-appointment with doctor in Pakistan today.

If you experience one or more of the above symptoms you need medical attention fast. A quick way to find doctors in Pakistan is through the online doctor app. Talk to your doctor wherever you are and get treated instantly. 

How do you treat a heat stroke?

The purpose of immediate treatment is to prevent complications such as organ damage. Here are some things you can do as first aid treatment:

  • Move the person to a shaded/covered area, remove clothing, apply cool or tepid water to the skin (for example, you can spray the person with cool water from a garden hose), fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation, and place ice packs under the armpits and groin.
  • If the person is able to drink liquids, have them drink cool water or other cool beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • Monitor body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101 to 102 F (38.3 to 38.8 C).
  • Meanwhile keep calling the local emergency number if you haven’t already. If their arrival is delayed, they can give you further instructions for treatment of the victim.

Can you prevent a heat stroke?

Prevention is always better than cure. The most important steps you can take to prevent heat strokes are to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. If the nature of your work demands long hours under the sun then make sure you keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times. Move to a shaded area during breaks. 

Other tips include avoiding vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather. If you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, replenish your body with fluids (such as water and sports drinks), but avoid alcohol, and caffeine (including soft drinks and tea), which may lead to dehydration.

Excessive sweating may lead to electrolyte imbalance. Replenish your body with electrolytes (such as sodium) as well as fluids if you sweat excessively or perform vigorous activity in the sunlight for prolonged periods. Wear hats and light-colored, lightweight, loose clothes.

Keep cars locked when not in use and never, ever, leave infants, children or pets unattended in a locked car.

For more details on stroke and other health conditions please visit www.mylivedoctors.com