What is Hyperthermia, Know its Causes and Treatment

What is Hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia is the name given to a collection of medical condition that causes an increase in body temperature. This occurs when the mechanism in the body that regulates the heat malfunctions due to environmental factors resulting in the internal temperature of the body to rise significantly. People who spend a lot of time out in the heat in the summer seasons are vulnerable to Hyperthermia. The medical conditions that results in Hyperthermia include heat fatigue, heat syncope, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.[1]

The lifestyle of a person, the external environment, and the overall health all play a major role in the development of Hyperthermia. The lifestyle factors that result in Hyperthermia include poor intake of fluids, especially in the summer season when spending a lot of time outside in the sun. Residences that do not have proper air conditioning and ventilation also can result in the person developing Hyperthermia.[1]

Hyperthermia is mostly seen in the elderly population, especially in hot and humid weather conditions. In case if there are people who do not have air conditioning at their residence they should better spend their afternoons at cooler places to prevent the body temperature to spike. The causes and treatment options for Hyperthermia is what has been discussed in detail in the article below.[1]

What Causes Hyperthermia?

The body gets rid of the excess heat in the body by way of various mechanisms like sweating and breathing. The body also increases the blood flow to the surface of the skin. However, when it is hot and sultry outside, the sweat that is released from within the body does not get evaporated and thus the heat from the body does not get released. As this process continues, the temperature within the body starts to rise and more and more moisture and electrolytes are zapped from the body due to the heat lowering the blood pressure and causing a variety of other symptoms. This is what is medically termed as Hyperthermia.[2]

There are some risk factors that make an individual vulnerable to Hyperthermia. These risk factors include doing rigorous exercise in hot and humid weather conditions. This happens when during the exercise the blood pressure rises to increase blood supply to tissues and increase the body temperature. Due to the warm conditions outside, the body is not able to get rid of the excess heat causing Hyperthermia.[2]

At times, Hyperthermia can also occur when an individual is resting. This usually happens during periods of heat waves. Additionally, people who are on certain medications also have Hyperthermia as a side effect profile. These medications include but are not limited to diuretics, antihistamines, beta blockers, and antipsychotics.[2]

Some of the medical conditions which can increase the risk of Hyperthermia especially in people above the age of 50 include:[2]

How is Hyperthermia Treated?

The primary treatment for Hyperthermia is to get away from the heated environment and move to a cool shaded area. In case if an individual has a heat cramp that lasts for more than an hour then a consultation with a physician is recommended. This is also advised for people who have symptoms of Hyperthermia that do not resolve even after resting in a shaded or cool area. Some of the tips to consider for Hyperthermia include:[2]

  • Drinking plenty of cold water and electrolytes
  • Wear loose and less clothing
  • Trying to relax as much as possible
  • Take a cool shower
  • Placing a wet cloth on the forehead
  • Using ice packs

In case if an individual is suspected to have a heat stroke, then he should be immediately rushed to a nearby emergency room. Before going to the emergency room, the patient should be kept in a cool shaded area, lying down, and all the excess clothing should be removed. The patient should not be given anything to eat or drink till he or she regains complete consciousness.[2]

Once in the emergency room, the patient will be given intravenous fluids to replenish the lost electrolytes. The patient will be monitored closely until the symptoms subside and the temperature returns back to normal. Additional treatment may be required if it is suspected that the patient may be having organ failure, seizures, or other complications due to Hyperthermia.[2]

In case of severe Hyperthermia, the patient will have to spend a few days in the hospital for close monitoring until all the symptoms resolve and the body temperature comes back to normal.[2]

References:

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