Our bodies have the capability to regulate and maintain body temperature despite variations in ambient temperature by balancing the heat gain with heat loss. However in cases when the heat gain overwhelms our body resulting in a rapid increase of our body temperature often accompanied by dehydration results in a heat stroke.
Heat stroke can be of two types – Exertion heat stroke (EHS) that mostly affects active young people who engage in strenuous physical activities in high temperatures and Non-exertion heat stroke (NEHS0 that affects mostly the sedentary older population, infants or chronically ill people. With temperatures rising, it is best to be prepared and know how to fight a heat stroke.
Dr. I.K. Bhattacharya helps us understand ways in which we can prevent and treat a heat stroke –
Weather friendly clothing – Make sure to wear summer appropriate clothes to avoid increased risk of a heat stroke. Wear loose fitted, preferably lighter coloured clothing in the heat. Tight clothes should be avoided or worn for smaller duration.
Hydration – Hydration is the key to keeping your body hydrated as it helps to maintain your ideal body temperature and guards it from heating up. Remember to drink lots of water, coconut water, juices and fruits and drinks rich in electrolytes. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they tend to leave your dehydrated.
Schedule physical activities – Make sure to schedule your physical activities smartly. Plan your activities either early morning or after sunset to avoid heat strokes. Physically strenuous activities in high temperatures increase your risk of EHS and should be avoided as much as possible.
While engaging in physically strenuous activities, remember to stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing and use sun block lotions or creams. Certain medications like diuretics, stimulants and sedatives have the tendency to increase your risk of heat stroke. Check with your physician about your drug usage and avoid self-medication.
Lifestyle choices – Sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep and obesity can also increase a person’s risk of heat strokes. Make sure to get adequate exercise to keep yourself healthy and fit. People with alcoholism and abusing drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can also find themselves with an increased risk of heat stroke!
Home remedies – There are plenty of preventive and heat stroke relieving home remedies. For instance, onion juice can be applied to bring down body temperature as is drinking tamarind juice, which is rick in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Even Aam Panna is rich in electrolytes and helps the body cool down. Other home made drinks that help you stay cool and prevent your body from heating up are buttermilk (or chaas), coconut water, juices with coriander or mint leaves and apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice etc.
Administering cooling techniques – The first thing to do with someone with heat stroke is to administer different cooling methods while someone calls for medical help as heat strokes can be quite dangerous. Cooling techniques include moving the person to a cool or shady area and splashing cold water or wrapping wet sheets on the patient. Removing excess layers of clothing or tight apparel is also important to help the body cool down.
Using a fan or fanning techniques in the absence of a fan is also recommended in aiding the cooling techniques. Cooling the body is of utmost important as heat strokes are caused as a result of rapid and extreme rise of body temperature. Cooling down of the patient’s body temperature should be done preferably within the first 60 minutes to avoid risk of permanent brain damage or cardiovascular risks!
Hydration – Heat strokes can often cause dehydration and thereby hydration is important. Oral hydration or if need by hydration by intravenous (IV) is known to be administered. Hydration also helps bring down the body temperatures thereby helping the patient recover faster.
Hypoglycemia is another common feature of people suffering from EHS and could indicate liver failure. To combat this patients are administered an infusion of dextrose in water solution (D50W).
Prevent Shivering – Shivering is one of the signs of heat strokes and shivering can cause the body to internally heat up more as response to the shivering. Thereby it is important to stop the shivering in order to prevent further increase in body temperature. Benzodiazepines can be administered to help patients from shivering.
Written by Healthenablr
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