What are the symptoms of heat stroke?
Children’s skin can be quite sensitive to heat. Nursing mom’s often discover this, especially in the summertime, when their baby’s face turns red where it is against the mother’s skin. This redness comes from blood vessels in the area dilating to cool the skin down. Cooling the skin usually makes the rash disappear within hours, or even sooner. Prickly heat (miliaria rubra) is a type of heat rash that lasts.
Heat cramps are common with physical exertion. They usually affect the calf or hamstring muscles.
Heat syncope is fainting due to heat/dehydration.
Heat edema is swelling of the hands or feet from heat. People sometimes get this condition when initially exposed to hot weather.
Heat tetany is tingling, especially of the wrists. Hyperventilation in hot weather can cause heat tetany.
Heat exhaustion usually entails a body temperature of 101 to 104, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting. It is important to recognize and treat heat exhaustion immediately.
Heat stroke is very serious. A person’s temperature rises over 104 degrees and he or she has an altered mental status. 50 percent of those with heat stroke die from it. There are two types of heat stroke: exertional, with profuse sweating; and classic, in which the skin is hot and dry. Classic heat stroke builds up over days and is most common in infants and in the elderly. It is a true emergency.
How is heat stroke treated?
Heat cramps usually respond to gentle stretching and to re-hydration, especially with an electrolyte solution.
Heat syncope usually responds to cooling (a sponge bath), lying down, and drinking fluids.
Heat edema often goes away on its own, as the person adjusts to the heat.
Heat exhaustion is an emergency. Treatment includes cooling, fans, drinking liquids, and applying ice over the groin and armpits. People typically respond well but prompt treatment is necessary in order to prevent the condition from progressing to heat stroke where treatment may no longer be effective.
Heat stroke is very serious. Initial attention should be paid to basic CPR (airway, breathing, and circulation). Aggressive cooling is important, with cooling fans and ice. The patient needs liquids as soon as possible, preferably IV fluids.
How can heat stroke be prevented?
Heat injuries can be prevented. Ensuring good hydration and air circulation are vital. Children should never be left alone in a car. Take care when spending time outdoors in the hot sun.
Children should drink before exercise or sports, and every 20 minutes throughout. Cool liquids are better than warm. Water is fine for exercise up to an hour, but electrolyte solutions are better for exercise that is more strenuous. Keep in mind that most children will not drink this frequently on their own while playing or exercising – they need frequent reminders to ensure that they stay well hydrated.
Lightweight clothes that breathe are preferable, and athletes should have time out of helmets at least every 30 minutes.