Heat stroke 101: How to spot heat-related illness and here’s what you should do | fitness | Hindustan Times
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Heat stroke 101: How to spot heat-related illness and here’s what you should do

The most serious form of heat stress is heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Here’s how to identify it and what to do in such a situation.

fitness Updated: Jul 18, 2017 11:00 IST
People suffer from heat stress when their bodies are unable to compensate for the heat and properly cool themselves.
People suffer from heat stress when their bodies are unable to compensate for the heat and properly cool themselves. (Bidesh Manna/HT Photo)

Summer is in full swing, putting most of us – especially those required to be outdoors for work – at risk of heat stress. Here are some tips on how to spot the signs of heat stress and what to do.

What is heat stress?

People suffer from heat stress when their bodies are unable to compensate for the heat and properly cool themselves. This is normally done via sweating, but in extreme heat conditions sweating sometimes isn’t enough. When this happens, the body temperature rises rapidly, which may damage the brain or other vital organs.

The most serious form of heat stress is heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Heat exhaustion is a milder condition which can develop after several days of exposure to extreme heat without proper hydration.

What are the signs of heat exhaustion?

There are a number of warning signs for heat exhaustion and they vary from person to person, but the chief symptoms to look out for include: Heavy sweating, muscle cramps, paleness, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, fainting, cool and moist skin, fast and shallow breathing, and a fast and weak pulse.

What to do if you suspect someone has heat exhaustion?

* Get the person to a cooler or shady area and somewhere they can lie down.

* Try to cool the person down quickly – loosen clothing, run a bath with cool water or use a cool shower, apply cool sponges or towels, or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.

* Sip water and do not drink alcohol.

* Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°-102°F / 38.3°-38.8°C.

A man selling air coolers rests at a market on a hot summer day in Ahmedabad. (Reuters File Photo)

What are the signs of heat stroke?

Again symptoms may vary, but look out for the following: Extremely high body temperature, red, hot and dry skin with no sweating, a rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, a confused mental state, slurred speech, loss of consciousness (coma) and seizures.

Tourists at Red Fort in Delhi on a hot summer day. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

What to do if you suspect someone has heat stroke?

Call an ambulance (102) immediately – this is a medical emergency. Move the person to a cooler environment and try to reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a cool bath. DO NOT give them fluids.

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