Heatstroke can become a real and serious threat in the intense heat of Texas summers. Complications arise when your body temperature rises rapidly and has trouble cooling down. Sever cases can be life-threatening, causing damage to the brain and other vital organs. Heatstroke can be caused by strenuous activity outdoors in the summer months, or by being in a hot place for too long.
To prevent heatstroke be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and take breaks in shady, cool places. When out and about pay attention to these warning signs, outlined by WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. Get immediate help if symptoms progress suddenly and severely.
Heatstroke signs and symptoms include:
- Fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater
- Changes in mental status or behavior, such as confusion, agitation, slurred speech
- Hot, dry skin or heavy sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushed skin
- Rapid pulse
- Rapid breathing
- Fainting, which may be the first sign in older adults
If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 or your local emergency number. Then immediately move the person out of the heat and cool down by whatever means available, for example:
- Put the person in a cool – not cold – tub of water or a cool shower.
- Spray with a garden hose.
- Sponge with cool water.
- Fan while misting with cool water.
- Place ice packs or cool wet towels on the neck, armpits and groin. This is where large blood vessels lie close to the skin surface.
- Cover with cool damp sheets.
- Let the person drink cool water if he or she is able.
- Begin CPR if the person loses consciousness and shows no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing or movement.
- Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce a high body temperature that can occur with heatstroke. These medicines may cause problems because of the body’s response to heatstroke.
- If the person is awake and alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids [32 fl oz (1 L) to 64 fl oz (2 L) over 1 to 2 hours] for hydration. Most people with heatstroke have an altered level of consciousness and cannot safely be given fluids to drink. You may have to help. Make sure the person is sitting up enough so that he or she does not choke.
- Remove the person’s unnecessary clothing and place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as possible.
Contact the staff at ERKaty for emergency medical treatment if you or anyone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of heatstroke
ERKaty is open 24/7 and their Board-Certified Emergency Medical doctors are ready to help at any hour. Call them at (281) 395-9900.