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Sunstroke, a very much colloquial term we use during the scorching heat of the summer season. However, sunstroke is lot different from that feeling of extreme tiredness and exhaustion post sun exposure.

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Let’s figure out what sunstroke actually is.

Symptoms of sunstroke

  • Spike of body temperature i.e. fever (could be > 105 degree F)
  • Profuse sweating followed by complete absence of sweating
  • Dehydration, dry, hot and red skin
  • Nausea and vomiting, dizziness
  • Throbbing and thumping headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle cramping and weakness
  • Dark coloured urination
  • Chills, convulsions, restlessness, fainting, confusion

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Causes of sunstroke

Overexpose and prolonged exposure to the harsh rays of the sun is the key reason behind a sunstroke, which is also a type of heatstroke or hyperthermia.  Your temperature rises so that your body fails to regulate it. Technically speaking, thermoregulation of your body the hypothalamus collapses, which is your body does not cool.

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Who are at risk of having sunstroke?

  • Babies and old people are vulnerable to get sunstroke in hot weather conditions.
  • Adults or elderly with chronic illness or working outdoors under the sun are at risk
  • Those taking medicines for hypertension, diabetes, antipsychotics, antidepressants, diet pills, ectc.

Complications of sunstroke

Sunstroke is indeed dangerous. If the victim is not attended quickly then it could be life threatening. The individual can faint, suffer from multiple organ failure and might die as well.

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First aid for sunstroke

If you come across a person who had experienced sunstroke then you can immediately apply some first aid. This is what you should do:

  • First call emergency service immediately for help or take him/her immediately to a hospital
  • In the meantime move the person to some shady place or in an air conditioned cool environment.
  • Apply water to his face, pour on the body and try to cool his body by blowing air or any other possible way that’s in handy
  • If the person is at home than apply ice pack around armpits, back, neck and groin or bathe him/her in cold water
  • Loosen the clothing, make sure there’s enough ventilation and drink cold water to restore hydration

Medical diagnosis and treatment for sunstroke

Once the victim reaches hospital, he/she will be under medical observation. The doctor will feel the pulse or measure the heart rate and take readings of the temperature.

Paracetamol and aspirin like drugs are not prescribed to bring down temperature, rather it is managed through cooling therapies. The hospital treatment options are similar to first aid but are done under extreme care.

  • The patient is immersed in a bath filled with ice and water.
  • The patient is covered with cooling blankets with application of ice pack in groin, neck, back and armpit.
  • Evaporation cooling is done wherein the individual’s body is sprayed with a mist of cool water accompanied by a fan which enhances the rate of evaporation of heat from the body.

If the individual has fainted then he/she would be taken to recovery room. The patient might be retained in hospital for further stabilization and for undergoing organ function tests if any complication has been suspected by the doctor.

How to prevent sunstroke

  • Avoid taking your little on e out for sun basking, for that matter avoid it if you are old. Limit outdoor activities during day time.
  • Drink plenty of water, juices and watery fruits. Cut down beverages, alcohol and caffeine
  • Use a sun block of SPF 30 or more before stepping out under sun
  • Use umbrellas, hats or head gear and wear light loose cotton clothing

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: April 12, 2016

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