6 October 2011

Preventing Heat Stroke Post 2

Posted by Jody under: Alternative Medicine .

The effects of even mild dehydration can cause decreased coordination, fatigue, and impairment in judgment. On very hot days, the body’s ability to cool can be impaired. The body can easily overheat, because it cannot sweat fast enough to cool off. The evaporation of sweat from skin accounts for 90% of our cooling ability. As the body becomes more dehydrated, its ability to sweat decreases.

Heat Exhaustion is caused by the loss of water and electrolytes, primarily sodium and chloride. Heat exhaustion is not life threatening and usually comes on several hours after exertion and dehydration. With enough rest, heat exhaustion is self-correcting. It should be treated with electrolyte replacement as well with water. Sports drinks or a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in a liter of cold water slowly consumed over an hour can help replenish energy stores. Heat cramps should be treated by rest, massage and stretching the muscle.

Both Carol and Fred showed signed of dehydration and heat exhaustion, but Fred’s illness progressed to heat stroke.

Heat Stroke is a life-threatening emergency. Without early recognition and proper care, heat stroke victims can die. Once the body’s cooling mechanism fails, body core temperature rises rapidly. Death can occur in as little as 30 minutes. As the core temperature rises, the brain tries to compensate by dilating blood vessels in the skin. The skin becomes very red and hot. The skin may be wet, but in severe cases of heat stroke the skin is dry. As the brain overheats, an individual will become disoriented, combative, argumentative, and start hallucinating.

The treatment for heat stroke is to cool the victim as quickly as possible. The best method is to remove any clothing that is not cotton or breathable and to soak the victim with water. Fanning the victim and massaging extremities will increase the speed of the cooling process. Cooling the head and neck is the top priority. If available, place ice packs around the neck and in the armpits and groin areas.

Once the heat stroke victim is cooled, re-hydration is required. Unfortunately, they are often disoriented and unable to drink. Never try to force fluids, the victim may aspirate the fluids into their lungs. It is important to continue to try and cool the victim, offer hydration, and to get them to the nearest healthcare facility for IV fluid therapy.

Tips for Preventing Heat Stroke
Stay well hydrated, drink plenty of water, and eat salty snacks when out in the heat (unless you are on a salt restrictive diet).
When out in the sun, stop and rest often.
Wear clothing that allows evaporation.
Wear a hat.
Avoid excess consumption of alcohol (alcohol causes fluid loss and dehydration).
Be sure you are in shape for whatever activity you are performing (start slow and work your way up).
Recognize symptoms early and treat them quickly.

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