Summer has its perks.
Summer has its downsides too.
One of them is heat stroke.
Just recently, DyLA-AM reported the death of a man from Pulangbato, Bogo City due to heat stroke.
You might be thinking, “Nyaaah! That can never happen to me.”
Don’t be foolish!
It can happen to anyone!
When I say anyone, it includes YOU!
This led me to scan my old nursing book in college.
I felt like I was back at school and writing a simple pathophysiology, which was my favorite part in Medical-Surgical Nursing. (Giggles!)
Before I continue, let’s define heat stroke.
According to Wikipedia, heat stroke is a heat illness that is characterized by body temperature of more than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) because of exposure to environmental heat and lack of thermoregulation.
This is different from a fever because fever is caused by the internal processes of the body.
Who are the people at risk of experiencing heat stroke?
- people not acclimatized to heat
- very young people
- people who are unable to care for themselves
- those with chronic/debilitating diseases
- those taking medications (major tranquilizers, anticholinergics, diuretics, beta-adrenergic blocking agents)
- body exertion of healthy individuals during sports or work activity (like those exercising in extreme heat and humidity)
What are the signs and symptoms of heat stroke?
- profound central nervous system dysfunction (confusion, delirium, bizarre behavior, coma)
- elevated body temperature (40.6 °C/105 °F or higher)
- hot, dry skin
- anhidrosis (absense of sweating)
- tachypnea (rapid breathing)
- hypotension (low blood pressure)
- tachycardia (heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute)
What do we do if we see somebody who exhibits the signs and symptoms of heat stroke?
- PRIMARY GOAL: Reduce high temperature as soon as possible because mortality is directly related to the duration of hypothermia.
How do we administer first aid to persons with heat stroke?
1. First, stabilize the person using ABC.
Make sure nothing is blocking the person’s nose.
B – Breathing
Check if the patient is still breathing. If not, you can deliver cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR if you know how to administer it.
C – Circulation
Make sure that the person’s circulation is not compromised. Loosen any tight clothing. Elevate feet using pillow to allow blood to circulate to the brain faster.
Note: Whether the person’s ABC are fine or not, have somebody call an ambulance immediately.
Continue administering first aid:
- Place the person in a lying position.
- Remove his clothing.
- You may apply cool sheets, towels or sponges using cool water. Take note, cool and not cold water. Cold water may cause vasoconstriction and may aggravate the person’s condition.
- You may apply ice to the neck, groin, chest, and axillae (armpits) while spraying cool water
- You may immerse the person in cool water bath (if you have a bath tub).
- While cooling the person, massage him to promote blood circulation.
- Electric fan can be used to augment heat dissipation by convection and evaporation.
- You may give fluids only if he is conscious. Never let the person take fluids if he is unconscious because it might cause suffocation.
- Wait for professional help to arrive.
You know what?
Heat stroke is not to be taken lightly.
Because it can kill!
How do we prevent heat stroke?
We all know that prevention is a lot better than cure. Take these precautions to avoid becoming a fool.
- Avoid being exposed to high temperatures.
- Maintain adequate fluid intake.
- Wear loose clothing.
- Reduce strenuous activities in hot weather.
- Athletes should monitor fluid intake and losses as well as weight loss during workout or training.
- Elderly patients who live in urban areas with high environmental temperatures should be directed to places with air-conditioning.
Here’s a summary of what to do when heat stroke strikes. Pass this on to your family and friends.
Don’t let heat stroke ruin your summer!
Stay safe and above else, enjoy your vacation!
- Smeltzer, Suzanne C.; Bare, Brenda G. (2004). Heat Stroke. Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing 10th Edition Volume 2: 2161-2162