Temperatures are climbing to their yearly highs with the summer months approaching, and you need to be well prepared for the issues that may arise from exposure to high heat. One of the most common, easily avoidable conditions caused by high temperatures is heatstroke. Let’s talk about what heatstroke looks like, effective treatment, and prevention. To keep yourself and loved ones safe this summer season.
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a health condition triggered by the overheating of the body. Heatstroke is caused by prolonged heat exposure or physical activity in high temperatures and occurs once your body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is considered the most serious form of heat related injury.
Signs of Heatstroke
There are several key indicators that will help determine whether someone is suffering from heatstroke. If someone is suffering from two or more of these symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention and call 911:
- Temperatures of 104 F or higher
- Agitation or irritability
- Slurred speech
- Dry or slightly moist skin with an altered ability to sweat
- Flushed skin
- Fast heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect that you or someone with you is experiencing heatstroke, seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Left untreated, heatstroke can quickly lead to muscle, brain, heart, and kidney damage. The longer a patient waits to seek treatment, the more severe the damage becomes. The most serious cases lead to extreme complications, up to and including death.
While you are waiting for professional help, you can take action to help reduce some of the effects of heatstroke. Get the person into the shade or inside and away from the heat. If they are wearing extra layers of clothing, remove them. Find anything that will allow you to cool them down: a garden hose, a sponge with cold water, a cool tub or shower. You can even consider ice packs, wet towels, and frozen foods. Anything that will help reduce their body temperature will work. Place these items on their head, neck, groin and armpit areas.
Heatstroke can be prevented if you stay cautious during extreme heat and make sure your body’s temperature stays regulated. Avoid going outside in extreme temperatures if possible. When it’s not, do not dress in excessive layers of clothing, drink plenty of water, eat hydrating foods, and avoid staying outside in the elements for too long without taking a break. Pack an insulated cooler with ice packs and cold, hydrating beverages, and always keep track of where the closest shady spot or air-conditioned space is. If you even remotely suspect you or someone with you may be experiencing heatstroke, act immediately. Ignoring the warning signs of heatstroke could end up endangering your life. To enjoy your summer in the sun, always exercise caution and follow these prevention tips.
Piedmont Urgent Care is open 365 days a year, opening early and closing late to assist with any medical urgencies. Heatstroke is an emergency and should be treated by the nearest emergency department. For any inquiries you might have about staying safe this summer, our board-certified providers are here when you need us. Find the Piedmont Urgent Care location nearest to you here, or schedule a virtual visit.