Heat Stroke Treatment Questions and Answers
Heat stroke is serious and may require urgent care medical attention. AFC Urgent Care is here to help treat heat stroke for patients of all ages. We accept most insurance and affordable self-pay urgent care costs for the uninsured. Walk into 760 Otay Lakes Rd Chula Vista, CA 91910 Near Eastlake or Call Us.
What causes heat stroke?
Overheating of the body leads to heat stroke and it is typically the result of physical exertion in high temperatures or prolonged exposure to high temperatures. While there are different forms of injury or illness related to heat exposure, heat stroke is the most severe and has a higher risk of occurrence when the body’s temperature rises to 104 F (or 40 C) or higher. The condition is known to happen in the extreme heat, like during the summer months, or in tropical locations.
Here are some key reasons why heat stroke happens:
- Exposure to a hot climate or environment that causes the core body temperature to rise to a dangerous level. This type of heat stroke is common in people with chronic illnesses and older adults.
- As a result of physical activity performed in hot weather, causing what is known as exertional heat stroke. Exertional heat stroke can affect anyone, however, it is more common in people who are working out in a hot climate for the first time.
Here are the risks associated with getting heat stroke:
- Overdressing and wearing excessive clothing, therefore causing the body to overheat.
- Drinking alcohol, which can negatively affect how your body regulates its internal temperature.
- Lack of water and being dehydrated, affecting your body’s ability to replenish fluids lost from sweating.
How do you treat heat stroke?
Depending on the severity of the heat stroke symptoms, they can be treated at-home or, in moderate to severe cases, through an urgent care or emergency room. To treat heat stroke, the body’s internal temperature needs to be brought back to an average, normal temperature. Failure to cool the body’s temperature down can cause damage to the brain or other internal organs that are vital to life. Treatment for heat stroke can be achieved through some of the following options:
- Immersion in ice-cold water can quickly and effectively lower the body’s core temperature when heat stroke symptoms are present. The person suffering from heat stroke should be immersed as fast as possible after heat stroke symptoms present themselves to prevent as much damage as possible to their internal organs.
- If cold water immersion is not available, the body can be cooled off through an evaporation cooling technique. This involves misting cold water over the skin’s surface and evaporating it with the use of a fan directing warm air onto the water. This will speed up the cooling process of the body’s temperature.
- A special cooling blanket is another option that can be used to wrap the body with ice packs placed on targeted areas of the body such as the back, neck, armpits and groin.
- Any of these treatments can cause the patient to start shivering, which is counterproductive as shivering increases the body’s temperature. Under medical supervision, a muscle relaxant can be administered which will prevent the patient from shivering.
In cases of severe heat stroke, emergency medical treatment should be sought out. While waiting for emergency treatment, individuals should follow some of the methods listed above to try to lower their body temperature and reduce the risk of permanent damage. For mild heat stroke, individuals can self-treat with some simple steps to lower the body’s temperature:
- Cool off in a well-shaded area or in an air-conditioned building such as a mall or library. A cool basement is also an option.
- Get wrapped in sheets or towels that are cool and damp sheets, or spray cool water on your skin and stand in front of a fan to speed up the evaporation.
- Take a bath or shower in cool water, or if that’s not available, immerse yourself in a pond, stream, lake or other body of cool water.
- Rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of water. A sports drink could also be used to help replenish vital nutrients that are lost through sweat, such as the body’s natural salt. Do not drink sugary or alcoholic beverages as these will have the reverse effect and can make symptoms worse.
What happens to your body during heat stroke?
Heat stroke causes your body’s internal temperature to rise to dangerous levels and can negatively affect the body’s natural processes. This puts people at risk of serious damage to vital organs that can lead to death in severe cases if not properly treated. An individual suffering from heat stroke may become confused, agitated, irritated, delirious and can have slurred speech. People suffering from severe heat stroke can suffer from seizures that can cause them to fall into a coma. Heat stroke can also cause people to feel nauseous or start vomiting, as well as experience rapid and shallow breathing, an unnaturally fast heart rate and headaches.
What is the difference between heat stroke and sun stroke?
Sunstroke and heat stroke are very similar, and both cause the body’s internal temperature to increase to dangerous levels as the result of prolonged exposure to heat. The symptoms for each condition are almost identical, with the core body temperature increasing to 104 F (or 40 C) or higher. At this temperature, damage to the brain and internal organs can occur if the body’s temperature is not returned to a normal level as soon as possible. Sunstroke is a form of heat stroke and is different from a heat stroke due to the fact that it is caused by direct sunlight that increases the body’s temperature. When there is no exposure to the sun, or limited exposure, the condition is a case of heat stroke.
Heat stroke, and sun stroke, can happen to anyone. If you are experiencing symptoms of heat stroke, or sunstroke, then we encourage you to contact our team of healthcare professionals at American Family Care – Urgent Care right away. Getting treatment is important for your health. We are open 7 days a week and we accept walk-ins.