Heat stroke, also called as sun stroke, is a severe heat illness defined as hyperthermia with a body temperature greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F). Heat stroke is usually cause by environmental heat exposure with lack of thermoregulation. Distinct from fever, it is a physiological increase in the temperature set point of the body. According to the Department of Health (DOH), heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness, when the body overheats and cannot cool down. The body cannot take off the excessive heat by the process of sweating because of dehydration and/or humid environment.
Heat stroke generally occurs when an individual has been exposed in high temperature for a long time while their working, exercising or even just been standing or sitting in a hot environment. Heat stroke must be given high attention for it is an emergency situation that requires first aid and medical attention. If remained untreated, it may damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. It will worsen if it is not properly treated and result to serious and major complications. Or worse, it can be one’s cause of death.
Everyone can experience heat stroke. Here are the possible causes of heat stroke:
- Hot and humid weather
- Vigorous exercise or activity under the hot weather
- Direct exposure to the sun for a long period
Major causes of heat stroke can be exertional and non-exertional or classic heat stroke. Exertional heat stroke is when heavy work/exercise is done in a hot environment. It occurs when an individual is not used to be exposed in a high temperature. Heat-related medical emergencies during sports events are estimated to be ten times more prevalent than cardiac-related occurrences. The non-exertional is caused by exposure to a particularly hot environment. It occurs when the person is exposed to humid conditions for long period of time. People who already are sick and older are prone to such conditions.
These are the following signs and symptoms one may encounter when heat exhaustion occurs:
- Warm, flushed skin
- Dizziness and confusion
- Very high fever of 41°C
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea and Vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms of heat stroke, you must get to a hospital quickly to begin proper treatment. The doctor will perform a physical examination, checking of one’s blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Also, the doctor will assess on how dehydrated the person is.
Department of Health – Philippines. (2015, April 6) Heat Stroke. Department of Health – Philippines Facebook Page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDOHgov/photos/a.157979910879936.38217.156566631021264/1008986529112599/?type=3&theater
Newman, T. (2016, April 15). Heat Stroke: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Prevention. Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266551.php
University of Maryland Medical Center. Heat Exhaustion. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/heat-exhaustion