Palmerston North's Clic'N'Collect Pharmacy

Heat Exhaustion & Dehydration

Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke & Dehydration.

Heatstroke (Heat Exhaustion, Sun Stroke, Heat Stroke) and dehydration are a real risk in this persistant hot weather.  Children, and the elderly are at particular risk as they are less able to deal with extremes of temperature.

Heatstroke is when your body loses it's ability to keep itself cool, and the body's tempetrature rises to over 40C.  

You're at risk of dehydrating and developing heatstroke if you're exerting yourself  in the hot weather for long periods of time.  Like playing sport, working, or even just not taking in enough water to replace what you're loosing in sweat.  Humid days make it even harder to lose heat

Other things that contribute to heatstroke are wearing too many clothes, becoming dehydrated (not replacing water lost through sweat), or drinking alcohol (alcohol dehydrates your body too).

Early Syptoms of Heatstroke or Heat Exhaustion are

  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Postural Hypotension (a blood pressure drop that makes your head spin when you stand up)
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Muscle Weakness

Later symptoms of Heatstroke are

  • High body temperature
  • Confuison, agitation, slurred speech
  • Reduced sweating.  Your skin might feel hot and dry, particularly if you're not working or exercising.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Redenning of the skin as body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing
  • Throbbing headache
  • Seiziures

 

Preventing and Minimising Risk of Heat Stroke

Prevention of heat stroke is the best treatment for Heat Stroke, you can reduce your risk  by doing a few simple things;

  • Make sure you drink plenty of water, electrolytes  are useful as the replace salts lost in sweat. 
  • Try and wear loose, light clothing.  This will allow any breeze to cool you, and help heat get away from the body. 
  • If possible avoid exercise or strenuous work in the middle of the day, if you can't make sure you're drinking plenty of water and occasional electrolytes.
  • Don't leave people (or animals) alone in closed cars
  • If you have the chance, acclimatise yourself to hotter environments gradually. 

 

Treating Heatstroke

If you or someone around you is developing heat stroke, you need to start cooling them down qucikly.   Water is very effective at absorbing heat from just about anything.  Including people.  Lying wet towels on the person, sponging people with cool water, cool showers, spraying people with water, are all good ways to start cooling people who are over heating.  Cold packs, bag of frozen veges, or ice in a towel can all be used.

Some other easy steps you can take to start the cooling process are

  • giving cool water to drink
  • removing or loosening tight or heavy clothing
  • rest, sitting or lying in a shaded area, or air conditioned room
  • sitting in a pool or bath of cool water

If people's condition gets worse or they are showing late symptoms of Heat Stroke it's time to get medical help.  Heat Stroke can be fatal if untreated.

 

At Risk People

  1. Extremes of age, Children under 4 and Adults over 65 are more at risk of Heat Stroke as the Central Nervous System isn't fully developed in young kids, and chronic conditions and medications cause problems for the elderly.
  2. People who take some medications (some blood pressure meds, some antihistamines, some anxiety meds, and some medications to treat mental health problems) can reduce the body's ability to manage hot temperatures, or may mask symptoms.  P will also increase your body temperature.
  3. Obesity increases your risk of Heat Stroke, as body's produce heat from their cells, and obese people find it harder to regulate body temperature.