Heat Stroke Treatment Questions and Answers
Are you concerned that you have heat stroke? Get medical attention today. AFC Urgent Care helps treat patients who have heat stroke. Call us today to book an appointment. We are open 7 days a week and we accept walk-ins. We are conveniently located at 265 Schuylkill Road Phoenixville, PA 19460.
What causes heat stroke?
Heat stroke is caused by an overheating of the body, due to physical exertion in high temperatures or prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Heat exposure shows up in many forms, with heat stroke being the most extreme condition. People are at higher risk of heat stroke when the body’s core temperature reaches 104 F (or 40 C) or higher. Heat stroke is common in the summer months or when people are exposed to heat that their bodies are not used to.
Heat stroke is classified into two different conditions:
- Classic or non-exertional heat stroke is the result of exposure to a hot environment that causes the body’s core temperature to rise to a dangerous level, usually in hot, humid weather or during a vacation. Chronic illness can increase the risk of heat stroke, as can old age.
- Exertional heat stroke can happen to anyone who is performing a physically demanding activity in the heat and is more common when people aren’t accustomed to the higher temperatures.
The likelihood of heat stroke can be increased by:
- Overdressing for the weather which causes more sweat to be produced by prevents it from being able to evaporate off of the skin’s surface.
- Consuming alcohol that limits the body’s ability to produce sweat and increases dehydration.
- Not drinking enough water or drinking sugary drinks that limit the body’s sweat production and cause dehydration.
How do you treat heat stroke?
Symptoms of mild heat stroke can be treated at-home, but more severe cases require medical attention to return the body back within a normal body temperature range. This must be actioned quickly after heat stroke sets in, to avoid damage to the brain or other vital internal organs.
A body suffering from heat stroke can be treated by:
- Immersing in cold water is one of the most effective ways of lowering the body’s core temperature, ideally in the form of a bath. The earlier the better to get into the bath to start the process and prevent serious organ damage that can result in death if not treated.
- Spraying down the body with cold water and then dried using a fan for faster evaporation when a cold bath isn’t available.
- Wrapping the body with a cooling blanket and inserting ice packs on specific areas of the body to speed up the cooling off process, such as the back, neck, armpits and groin.
- Caution needs to be taken if the patient starts shivering, as this can increase their body temperature. Under medical supervision, they may be given a muscle relaxant to prevent shivering.
While waiting for medical treatment for moderate to severe heat stroke, individuals can use the previous options to start the process of lowering their body temperature.
Mild cases of heat stroke can often be treated by trying the following techniques:
- Relax in a cool area, preferably an air-conditioned space, to cool off.
- Wrap your body in cool damp sheets or spray cool water on your skin.
- Get your body wet with cool water in a bath or shower. A pond or lake can also be used if available.
- Drink lots of water to rehydrate and avoid alcohol or sugary drinks that can make heat stroke symptoms worse.
If these methods are not helping, get yourself to an urgent care to get checked over by a doctor and ensure your condition isn’t worse than you thought.
What happens to your body during heat stroke?
As a result of exposure to hot conditions, your body’s internal temperature will rise to dangerous levels, causing a heat stroke. Our body’s internal temperature will naturally fluctuate from spending time outside when it’s hot, however heat stroke can occur when the body’s temperature reaches the potentially dangerous level of 104 F, or 40 C. Heat stroke disrupts the body’s natural functions due to the increase in temperature and runs the risk of causing serious internal organ damage, or death. Additional signs that a person is suffering from heat stroke include appearing confused, agitated, irritated or delirious. They may also have slurred speech and in extreme cases can experience seizures which could result in them falling into a coma. Heat stroke can additionally appear in symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, shallow and rapid breathing, increased heart rate, headaches and unnaturally flushed skin.
What is the difference between heat stroke and sun stroke?
Sunstroke and heat stroke are often interchanged since they both cause an increase in the body’s internal temperature as the result of prolonged exposure to hot environments. The symptoms between the two can often be confused, as both conditions cause the core body temperature to rise dangerously to at least 104 F (or 40 C), and if left untreated, can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. Heat stroke is a broad term that includes sunstroke as a separate illness related to it. Sunstroke is slightly different from a heat stroke classification in that it is caused by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Heat stroke refers to the same condition that is caused by exposure to heat and not from exposure to the sun, for example on a hot day where the sun isn’t beating down on the individual. If you think you have heat stroke, or sun stroke, reach out to our team of healthcare professionals today. AFC Urgent Care Phoenixville offers a wide variety of urgent care services for patients of all ages, and we are open 7 days a week. We serve patients from Phoenixville PA, King of Prussia PA, West Norriton PA, Norristown PA, East Norriton PA, Pottstown PA, and West Chester PA.