National Institute of Health (NIH) Friday asked the departments concerned to take immediate necessary measures for prevention and treatment of heat and sun stroke. According to NIH, the objective of this advisory was to sensitize health care authorities to take in-time appropriate actions for preparedness and prevention of heatstroke in the wake of the recent temperature rise in different parts of the country.
It said heatstroke is a medical emergency and is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature is elevated dramatically and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated.
The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down consequently the body temperature can rise to 106ø F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes, it added. It said the body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to sufficiently dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises.
It said another cause of heatstroke is dehydration as dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which also causes the body temperature to rise. It said common signs and symptoms of heat stroke included profuse sweating or the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin, weakness or lethargy, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, hallucinations, confusion or dizziness and slurred speech.
Heat stroke can cause death or permanent organ damage or disability if not properly treated in time. Infants, the elderly, athletes and outdoor workers are at high risk for heatstroke. The NIH said that victims of heatstroke must receive immediate treatment and recommended various measures. It said if a person shows signs of possible heatstroke, professional medical treatment should be obtained immediately. The most critical step is the lowering of the temperature of the patients, it added.
The patients should be moved to shady area, clothing should be removed and cool tepid water should be applied to the skin while soaking remaining clothes with water. Notify the emergency services immediately as severe cases often require hospitalization and intravenous re-hydration, it added.
The NIH advised to promote sweat evaporation by placing the patient in front off under the fan and place ice packs under the armpits and groin. If the patient is able to drink liquids, he or she should be given plenty of cool water or other cool beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine.
The NIH in its advisory urged to monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101øF to 102øF (38.30C to 38.8øC).