Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat-related illnesses and can be deadly if not treated properly. When the thermometer spikes, it is important to take a moment and check on ourselves and especially those that we love. Elderly people are the most likely to succumb to the affects of heat. Old age, chronic underlying medical conditions and prescription medications all slow down the bodys natural capacity to regulate body temperature. Additionally, some prescription medications may even inhibit the bodys ability to perspire. Because of this, heat stroke can set in quickly and with serious consequences.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke occurs when the bodys temperature rapidly rises; the body loses it's ability to perspire and is ultimately unable to cool down on it's own. In some instances, body temperatures can spike to 106F or higher in less 15 minutes. Warning signs can vary but include the following:
- High Temperature (over 103F)
- Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid pulse
- Body chills
Heat stroke is preceded by heat exhaustion. These symptoms are often overlooked or simply ignored when temperatures start to rise. Being aware of any sudden changes in your body and taking preventative actions will keep you from succumbing to heat stroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include, but are not limited to, heavy sweating, pale skin, muscle cramps, extreme fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting, fainting, as well as fast and shallow breathing. If you notice more than one of these symptoms together, take immediate action to cool the body down.
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How to Protect Yourself from Heat Stroke
- Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages. If you doctor has prescribed water pills, or has limited your daily intake of fluids, ask how much you can safely drink on a hot day.
- Avoid extremely cold liquids as they can shock the system and cause cramps.
- Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
- Rest in an air-conditioned environment.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing.
- Whenever possible, remain indoors during the hottest part of the day.
- Do not engage in strenuous activity.
If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, visit them at least twice a day and watch for the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Regardless of their activity level, encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, non-alcoholic beverages. If they do not have air-conditioning, offer to drive them to a local library, senior center or cooling station in their area for a break.
If you notice any of the signs of severe heat stress, do not delay calling for help as it may be a life-threatening emergency. While waiting for EMS, monitor body temperature and try to help cool the person using whatever methods are available to you. A cool bath or shower, wrapping a wet sheet around the body and putting a fan on the person, or placing cold compresses into armpits, around the neck and on the groin, are all options. Call your local hospital emergency room for further instructions if emergency medical services are delayed.
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Posted in Dentistry Post Date 11/24/2015