Heat Stroke Part 2: Signs and Symptoms
Nearly everyone has experienced feeling sweaty and overheated on a hot summer day. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that they have heat stroke. This serious medical condition is a form of hypothermia that occurs when the body temperature becomes extremely elevated and the person exhibits dehydration and several other physical symptoms as well. Unlike heat exhaustion and heat cramps, two less serious forms of hypothermia, it’s always an emergency when a person develops heat stroke.
Risk Factors for Heat Stroke
Because heat stroke affects the central nervous system, children and the elderly are most at risk of developing it. That is because the central nervous system of kids is still immature while that of the elderly is in the process of deterioration. Besides age, other risk factors for heat stroke include:
- Chronic heart or lung disease can make it difficult to cope with the heat. This is also true for obese people and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
- Extreme physical exertion in hot weather, such as sports or military training.
- Little or no access to air conditioning during very hot weather.
- Sudden or unexpected exposure to very hot weather, such as a heat wave in the springtime or traveling to a vastly different climate.
- Medications with a dehydrating effect, including anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, beta blockers, diuretics, vasoconstrictors, medication used to treat ADHD and illegal stimulants.
It Can Be Very Serious
Although heat stroke often happens quickly, most people develop heat exhaustion first. Consider this a warning sign to get out of the hot sun and start cooling down immediately. Once a person progresses to heat stroke, they have an increased risk of organ failure and seizures. Seeking prompt medical attention is essential since heat stroke can be fatal.
Exertional and Non-Exertional Heat Stroke
Exertional heat stroke means that the condition came on due to a person performing strenuous activities outdoors in hot weather or indoors without any air conditioning. Non-exertional heat stroke, also called classic heat stroke, is more common. It happens after prolonged exposure to heat, usually to young children, seniors, and people with significant pre-existing medical conditions.
Common Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Knowing the symptoms of heat stroke allows you to remove yourself or another person from the heat and seek immediate help. The primary indication is a body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Others include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Racing heartbeat
- Flushed skin
- Rapid breathing
- Confusion and disorientation
- Slurred speech
- Lack of sweating
- Hot and dry skin
PrimeCare Urgent Care Can Provide Immediate Help
Going to the emergency room often means a long wait and a big bill. Our urgent care facility in Cummings is open until 7 p.m. seven days a week, and our staff has the expertise to treat heat stroke. Please click here to learn more about us.