First Aid for heat attack

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Overview

Heat attack is a condition that occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature. Under such circumstances the body temperature continues to rise, often to 105°F (40.6°C) or higher. It is the most severe of all heat-related illness and could be life – threatening.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of heat stroke are:

  • A rectal temperature of over 104°F (40°C) after exposure to a hot environment.
  • Head ache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue
  • Skin that may be red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits.
  • Signs of moderate to severe difficulty in breathing.
  • Fast heart rate.
  • Sweating that may be heavy or may have stopped.
  • Fluctuating blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Confusion, severe restlessness, or anxiety.
  • Lack of consciousness / coma for longer than a few seconds
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Risk Factor

Usually young children, older adults, people who are obese and people born without the ability to sweat are at high risk of heatstroke. These people show the fastest progression of symptoms and can collapse suddenly. Moreover people who are outdoors on a hot, humid day or inside in a poorly ventilated area are also susceptible to heatstroke. The other risk factors include dehydration, alcohol use, cardiovascular disease and certain medications.

First Aid and emergency treatment

1.First move the person into a cool place, out of direct sunlight.

2.Remove the unnecessary clothing of the patient and place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as possible.

3.Sponge the person's entire body to cool it.

4.You can also spray cool-not cold-water, and fan the person to lower the body temperature.

5.Apply ice packs to the groin, neck, and armpits.

6.Check the person's rectal temperature frequently. Try to keep it to 102°F (39°C) or lower. However, it should be kept in mind that temperatures taken by mouth or in the ear are not accurate in this emergency situation.

7.If a child suffering from heat stroke stop breathing, begin rescue breathing.

8.Give the person 1 to 2 liters (32 fl oz to 64 fl oz) over a period of 1 to 2 hours for hydration. However, during this time most people have an altered level of consciousness. For this reason help the person to sit up and drink the fluid to avoid choking.

The Donts

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1.Do not immerse the person in an ice bath.

2.Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce a high body temperature due to heatstroke. These medicines if given may create unnecessary complications.

3.Do not use rubbing alcohol.

Prevention

  • Avoid outdoor activity during excessive heat. Be cautious while under the sun.
  • Try to avoid midday heat. Try to avoid vigorous activity during the hottest part of the day i.e. from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Try not to stay in or leave anyone in a closed, parked car during hot weather.
  • Drink plenty of fluids when working outdoors.
  • Also drink lots of liquids like water and sports drinks, especially if the urine coloration is dark yellow.
  • During outdoor activity, splash your body frequently with water.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee or soda.
  • Wear light weight, light- colored, loose-fitting clothes especially made of cotton.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat with vents. You may also use an umbrella for shade.
  • If you feel very hot, try to cool off by opening a window or by using a fan. You may also go to an air-conditioned place to cool off.
  • People using water pills, mood-altering medicines and antibiotics like tetracycline should consult their doctor for protection from heat stroke.

Other first aid articles

First aid for diarrhea
First aid for dizziness
First aid for fainting

Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last updated: May 02, 2015