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Rising temperature could lead to heat stroke: Watch out for the warning signs and symptoms

Heat stroke occurs when your body loses its ability to cool down after prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures. © Shutterstock

Heat stroke is the most serious of the heat-related illnesses. It can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Know the warning signs and symptoms to seek immediate treatment.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : May 11, 2020 9:15 AM IST

The rising mercury levels is adding to the woes of the people amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While the country is grappling the deadly coronavirus, many heat-related health issues have surfaced in various parts of the nation. Bangalore has been reporting rising cases of heat stroke with at least four to five patients visiting emergency wards with symptoms of the condition. The Goa government has also issued precautionary measures for heat-related illnesses, after the Indian Meteorological Department predicted that the state may be hit by a heat wave from May 8 to May 14.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke (also called sun stroke) are heat-related illnesses caused by prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures. When you're exposed to extreme temperature, blood rushes to the surface of your skin as your body works to cool itself. This lowers the flow of blood to your brain, muscles, and other organs. This weakens your physical strength and mental capacity, leading to serious conditions.

Though heat-related illnesses can strike anyone, chronic alcoholics, the elderly, the young, the obese, and individuals whose immune systems may be compromised are at greater risk. Also, people taking certain drugs, such as antihistamines, antipsychotic medications, and cocaine are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.

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Cause of heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious of the heat-related illnesses. It can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Extreme heat causes the part of the brain that normally regulates body temperature to malfunction. This affects the body's ability to sweat and, therefore, cool down. People with certain medical conditions such as scleroderma or cystic fibrosis, which decrease the body's ability to sweat, may be at greater risk of developing heat stroke.

Signs and symptoms ofheat stroke

If you suspect you or any other person is experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. If not treated immediately, heatstroke can damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. Here are some warning signs and symptoms to watch out for.

High body temperature: A core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or above is the primary sign of heatstroke.

Altered mental state: Heatstroke can cause confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, and seizures.

Hot and dry skin: If you suffer heatstroke due to hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. Strenuous exercise can also cause heatstroke. In this case, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.

Nausea and vomiting. You may feel discomfort in the stomach or vomit.

Skin turns red: As your body temperature increases, your skin may become red.

Rapid breathing: Rapid and shallow breathing is also a symptom of heat stroke.

Racing heart rate: Heat stress can put a tremendous strain on your heart to cool down your body and as a result your pulse may significantly increase.

Headache: Heatstroke can also cause a throbbing pain in your head.

Precautionary measures

Prevention is better than cure. So, here are some precautionary measures you can take to prevent heatstroke or other heat-related illnesses.

  • Avoid alcohol consumption during hot weather
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Experts suggest drinking at least eight glasses of water, fruit juice, buttermilk or other fluids daily.
  • Avoid going out during the hottest period of the day i.e. early and late afternoons
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Keep the house well ventilated, especially the cooking area.
  • During the hottest part of the day, cover the windows with curtains.

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