Heat stroke and sunstroke: two emergencies
Doctors call heat stroke excessive exposure to heat, for example in a closed vehicle in direct sunlight or a cabin with a metal roof. The body can no longer eliminate excess heat and hyperthermia occurs. Body temperature rises above 40 degrees when it is usually around 37 degrees.
Hyperthermia disrupts the functioning of certain organs, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. Beyond 41 degrees, the dysfunctions are accentuated and death is likely to occur.
When heatstroke is linked to exposure to the sun, it is called sunstroke. It mainly affects vulnerable people such as children and seniors. But it can concern younger people, who make an intense effort in the sun. Heatstroke is a common cause of death among athletes.
What are the symptoms ?
The first symptoms of heat stroke are dizziness, blurred vision, dizziness, weakness, clumsiness or even headaches, muscle cramps and a feeling of fatigue. Signs of dehydration occur, such as dry mouth, very dark urine, a feeling of thirst (except in seniors).
People do not necessarily realize that the body temperature rises, until it exceeds 40 degrees. The skin turns red. Neurological signs occur: victims of heatstroke become confused and disoriented. They may have convulsions or fall into a coma. Heart rate and respiratory rate increase.
If it is an infant or a young child, certain symptoms require you to react urgently and call 15: crying, fatigue and depression, dark circles in the eyes, dryness of the mucous membranes (dryness of the tongue and lips, skin fold (pinching the skin of the child, it remains wrinkled for some time), impaired consciousness.
Heatstroke can be cured but it can leave sequelae (neurological disorders, cramps, etc.).
Also read: Are you drinking enough water? To find out, pinch yourself!
How to treat heat stroke?
Heatstroke is an emergency. One in 10 people with heatstroke die, according to the French Red Cross.
As soon as heatstroke is noticed, the person should be taken to a cool place and cooled. It can be wrapped in a damp, cool sheet. If conscious, she can be submerged in water (lake, river, bath). She needs to drink small amounts of water very often to compensate for or avoid dehydration. If she has lost consciousness, she must be put in a lateral safety position and call for help.
In all cases, it is essential to consult a doctor, especially if it is a child.
How to prevent heat stroke?
The main precaution is to avoid long exposure to the sun or in closed places, especially for infants and children. It is essential to avoid going out during the hottest hours and to favor the morning or the evening for walks.
Using a fogger, drinking regularly, using a parasol or a cap are also highly recommended.
If symptoms occur despite these precautions, urgent medical consultation is required.
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