Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Heat stroke is the most serious type of heat injury and is regarded as a medical emergency. When someone is suspected of having sunstroke, immediate medical assistance is needed. If not treated in time, heat stroke can be fatal. Here’s a comprehensive article on dos and don’ts for heat stroke.

Dos & Don'ts For Heat Stroke

Dos & Don'ts for Heat Stroke

One can prevent heat stroke by staying safe in high temperatures. You can do this by following some simple dos and don’ts for heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a medical term used to define a condition in which the core body temperature is greater than 104°F. Heat stroke generally occurs due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It can be exertional and non-exertional or classic.

  • Exertional heat stroke occurs when one performs heavy work or exercises in hot environment. These individuals are generally not used to being in such high temperatures and so end up develop exertional heat stroke.
  • Non-exertional heat stroke is not related to exertional episodes. Prolonged exposure to humid conditions can cause a person to develop non-exertional stroke. Old people and sick individuals are more likely to get this type of stroke.

Generally, milder heat-related illnesses like heat syncope, heat cramps and heat exhaustion progress into heat stroke. Knowing the dos and don’ts for heat stroke can help you deal with the condition better.

Other common symptoms of heat stroke are dizziness, nausea, vomiting, throbbing headache, rapid heartbeat, lack of sweating, dermal dryness and redness, rapid breathing, muscle weakness, cramping, confusion, staggering, disorientation, seizures and even coma. Heat stroke is an emergency condition which requires immediate first aid and medical attention. If left untreated for long, heat stroke can cause damage to the brain, kidneys, muscles, and heart. Heat stroke may also have complications involving the central nervous system (CNS).

Dos for Heat Stroke

While waiting for the arrival of the paramedics, ones around can give first aid to the patient. Being aware of the dos and don’ts for heat stroke can be applied over here.
The patient would first need to be moved into an air-conditioned environment, or at least a shady and cool area, and any unnecessary clothing should be removed. If possible, the patient’s core body temperature should be taken and first aid should then be initiated to bring the temperature down to 101 to 102 °F.

To do this, one can use cooling strategies like fanning air over the patient while wetting their skin with water from a sponge, immersing the patient in a tub of cool water, and applying ice packs on the patient's neck, armpits, groin, and back.

Also, ice bath can help to cool the body of young and healthy individuals suffering from exertional heat stroke. However, ice can prove to be dangerous, and should never be used in case of young children, elders, patients of any chronic disease, or people with non-exertional stroke.

In case of heat stroke, prevention is always better than cure. By being mindful of the essentials during very hot and humid weather, you can save yourself and those around you from heat stroke. Simply by following the below mentioned dos and don’ts one can prevent the occurrence of this emergency.

Here are some of the effective dos for heat stroke to protect yourself.

  • Drink lots of fluids, especially water, even when not thirsty. Carry water when going out and sip on fluids when working outdoors, exercising or playing sports.
  • Bathe daily with cool water
  • Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes.
  • Protect yourself from the heat, wear sunglasses, hats, scarfs and use umbrellas.
  • Remain in the shade or stay in cool environment
  • Maintain cool room temperature, with air conditioners or fanning.
  • Move slowly and allow your body to adjust the temperature changes.
  • Spend lesser time in outdoor activities and remain indoors most of the time.
  • Have a healthy breakfast and eat small meals throughout the day. Avoid junk, oily and spicy foods that may leave you dehydrated and exhausted.

Don'ts for Heat Stroke

Here are some of the effective don’ts for heat stroke that can keep you healthy.

  • Drinking cold water on an empty stomach as it may cause stomach cramping
  • Avoid too much exercising, especially when on empty stomach or when outdoors.
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol, caffeine, or sodas as these can accelerate loss of fluids from the body.
  • Avoid staying inside a closed car for long durations, especially when the car is under the fiery heat of the sun

Diagnosis & Treatment of Heat Stroke

A person suspected to have heat stroke, should be hospitalized immediately for prompt medical treatment. Diagnosis of heat stroke can be made with physical examination. It is important to check the blood pressure, level of dehydration, temperature and pulse. The doctor may also order for a blood test, urine test, muscle function test, and even x-ray to further confirm the diagnosis.

Once heat stroke is diagnosed, the doctor would use cooling method like immersing the patient in cold water, evaporation cooling technique, and packing the patient with ice and cooling blankets, to treat the problem. They would also prescribe certain medications to stop the shivering.

Things to Remember

After a patient has recovered from heat stroke, they tend to be more sensitive to high temperatures in the following week. So it is recommended that they avoid hot weather and heavy exercise until their doctor allows it safe for them to resume their normal activities. Follow these simple dos and don’ts for heat stroke, in addition to medical advice, to prevent or manage heat stroke.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 14, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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