It is summer season, which means loads of heatwaves are blasting us daily. The heat is sometimes bearable, but most of the time, it becomes unbearable, leaving us extremely dehydrated and at a complete loss of energy. For this reason, heatstrokes have become common, and most people don’t know how to treat it and prevent it from happening in the first place.
So, for today’s article, we’ll be talking about the treatment process of heatstrokes and how they can be prevented from happening. Keep on reading to learn all about heatstrokes.
What is a Heatstroke?
The condition where your body overheats itself due to prolonged exposure or long periods of physical exertion in a high-temperature environment is known as heatstroke. This condition is most common during the summer season because it is the hottest time of the year.
Heatstroke can cause serious harm or serious heat injury when your body temperature rises to 104 F or 40 C. It is classified as a life-threatening condition because untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your heart, brain, kidneys, and muscles. The damage caused by heatstroke worsens the longer that treatment is delayed, which is what makes it a life-or-death situation.
The Treatment Process for Heatstrokes
The primary treatment for a heatstroke focuses on cooling the individual’s body to a normal temperature. As mentioned, that ensures no serious harm is caused to vital organs such as the brain or muscles.
To cool the individual’s body down to a natural temperature, here’s what the doctor would do:
- Immerse them completely in cold water: It has been proven that the most effective and easiest way to bring down someone’s body temperature is to submerge them entirely in cold water. The quicker this step is taken, the faster their body temperature will reach a normal level.
- Use an evaporation cooling method: If, for some reason, the cold water submersion method is not effective, the healthcare workers may resort to using a method known as the “evaporation cooling method” to cool down the individual’s body temperature. In this process, cold water is misted all over the individual’s body while warm air is fanned over them to instantly evaporate the water and cool down the body’s temperature.
- Packing in with cooling blankets and ice: If none of the techniques mentioned above are working, another method that the doctor might do is to pack the individual up with a specialized cooling blanket and place ice bags over their neck, armpits, back, and groin to try to lower their temperature to a normal level.
- Provide medication to stop the shivering: Lastly, the doctor will make the individual consume medications for muscle relaxants such as benzodiazepine or cyclobenzaprine to stop their body from shivering after body cooling techniques are applied. Shivering causes the body temperature to shoot up higher, which is ineffective and an obstacle to the prior body cooling methods. Hence, the medication is provided to allow the prior body cooling methods to work effectively and lower their body temperature.
How to prevent Heatstrokes
While heatstrokes are a dangerous health emergency, they can be predicted and prevented from occurring. Some of the best prevention measures for heatstrokes are given as follows:
- Drink lots of fluids: Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent heatstroke from happening. It will allow your body to sweat properly and maintain a normal temperature.
- Get acclimated with the environment first: If you’re someone that cannot bear to be in heat, then absolutely avoid it. People who cannot bear hot weather are more prone to be attacked by heat-related illnesses. So, limit your time outside during hot weather until and unless you’re conditioned.
- Wear lightweight and loose-fitted clothing: During hot weather, letting your body cool itself down by letting out heat is important. So, wear proper clothing that will allow your body to air out all the heat that builds up in it.
- Never leave someone behind in a parked car: When a car is parked in the sun, the temperature inside that car can rise up to 20 degrees F (Fahrenheit) or 11 degrees C (Celcius) in 10 minutes. So, make sure never to leave someone sitting inside a parked car.
- Take enough precautions when working outside in the heat: If you cannot avoid physical or strenuous activities outside during hot weather, make sure to be conditioned enough for it. Equip yourself with lightweight and loose-fitted clothing and drinks lots of fluids; use liberal amounts of sunscreen, besides taking frequent periods of shelter in a cool spot to let your body’s temperature go down.
- Protect yourself against sunburns: Sunburns heavily affect your body’s ability to cool down to a normal temperature, so protect yourself when outside. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. And, of course, use liberal amounts of sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours that you’re outside or even more frequently if you sweat a lot or are going swimming. Utilizing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF level of 15 is advisable.
- Take extra precautions with specific medications: If you are on medication that affects your body’s ability to dissipate heat and let you stay hydrated, be extra careful when you have to go outside in hot weather. So, be on the lookout for problems related to heat that can arise.
- If you’re at increased risk, be extra careful: If you consume medications that put you at risk of adopting heat-related illnesses, be careful. As soon as you notice any signs of overheating, quickly take shelter in a cool spot.
While heatstrokes may seem predictable and easy to prevent, please do not take the condition lightly. As mentioned before, it is a dangerous and emergency health condition, so be careful and adopt the preventive measures above when going outside in extremely hot weather. Better be safe than sorry, people.