A heat stroke is something that occurs as the result of your body being unable to cool itself down. One of the main causes of this is dehydration, because when we are dehydrated we can’t effectively sweat enough, which is the way that the body cools itself.
Heat stroke can be dangerous when the core body temperature rises over 103 degrees fahrenheit, which can cause a whole variety of symptoms like confusion, dizziness, organ failure and potentially death.
One of the major problems in fighting heat stroke is that many people don’t realize that they have heat stroke until it is too late. This is why it is important to be able to recognize the early signs of heat stroke, so make sure you know the signs.
What Are the Major Symptoms of Heat Stroke?
Before your body and mind are completely overwhelmed by heat stroke, you will experience a few warning signs. Here are some things to look out for.
–Cramps-One of the first sign of dehydration which can lead to heat stroke is cramping. It is very common for people to experience cramping while just being in hot weather without really exerting themselves. This is one of the first strong indicators of early heat stroke.
Make sure to get hydrated as soon as possible, and give yourself some time to rest in a shaded or air conditioned location.
–Fainting-Another early sign of heat stroke is fainting. Another way the body tries to cool itself is by dilating or increasing the size of our blood vessels, which brings them closer to the skin and allows for more heat from the blood to escape to the environment.
When you body does this, it is very common that blood flow to the brain is reduced because of the dilation of other blood vessels, leaving us vulnerable to fainting. This usually occurs to people who are doing outdoor labor in the hot sun.
-Heat Exhaustion-Heat exhaustion is when the heat is bothering you to the point where you become physically ill. This includes headaches, vomiting, nausea, and changes in skin temperature. The person may feel very clammy and may even appear pale as well. This is the last step in the progression to heat stroke.
-Heat Stroke-Heat stroke is the most serious of the list because at this point your body has lost the ability to cool itself, and the temperature of the body will continue to rise as a result. Heat stroke can come with a wide assortment of symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, confusion, rapid or shallow breathing, hot skin and even unconsciousness.
Heat stroke can lead to organ failure and even death in the most severe cases. Even in those that do not die, there is a high percentage of people that experience irreversible brain damage as a result so make sure you are doing everything you can to avoid heat stroke.
What Can I Do to Avoid a Heat Stroke?
The first thing you need to do to avoid a heat stroke is to drink plenty of water. As mentioned earlier, water is essential in maintaining body temperature among other things so staying hydrated is key. If you are feeling thirsty, this is your body’s way of saying that you are already dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day to avoid this.
Along with drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, you need to be eating hydrating foods as well. To maintain the proper fluid balance in your body you need electrolytes like calcium, sodium, and potassium along with water to do so. Bananas, coconuts, and watermelon for example are great food sources you can use to stay hydrated.
In that same vein, on hot days that you know you will be working outside or just will be outside, try to avoid caffeine and other diuretics as well. These substances encourage urination, which is just going to dehydrate you further and make things worse.
Another thing you want to do is to avoid direct sunlight when you can. This may seem obvious but avoiding sunlight can make a huge difference especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors during the day. Just being in the shade as opposed to the sun can make a difference of about 10 degrees or so, so make sure to seek shelter when possible.
Another alternative would be an air conditioned room for shade and shelter from the heat.