Presse Santé

Heat wave: 4 symptoms that the heat is putting you at risk

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the body can no longer cool itself. The body suffers from dehydration because it is unable to release internal heat to the environment, resulting in a core temperature above 40 degrees C.

The scary thing is that most people don’t know they’re in danger of heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness, until it’s too late. By then they are already confused and delusional due to nerve damage. To make sure your health is never threatened by the heat, take preventative steps to cool down and hydrate. It is also important to avoid actions that increase the risk of heat stroke, such as doing physical activities that increase the risk of heat illness, such as exercising in direct sunlight.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion

Heat stroke occurs when your body’s natural processes for regulating core temperature begin to fail due to overheating. This is the most severe phase of heat illness, when you are at risk of experiencing life-threatening symptoms.

Heat exhaustion is the phase immediately before heat stroke, when you begin to experience the signs of heat illness, such as muscle weakness and fatigue.

The body regulates core temperature to maintain a constant temperature of 37°, even in the hottest or coldest environmental conditions. To make this possible, the thermoregulatory system uses different physiological mechanisms to balance the heat produced inside the body and the amount of heat lost to the environment. When these mechanisms fail, the symptoms of heat stroke appear.

How to combat heat stroke? Here’s what happens naturally to prevent life-threatening symptoms of heat stroke:

When the outside temperature gets too high, temperature receptors in the skin send messages to the hypothalamus, the brain’s processing center.

As soon as you get too hot, you evacuate the heat by sweating and activating the muscles in your skin. Your blood vessels also begin to swell or widen, causing noticeable redness. Then more warm blood circulates near the skin’s surface, so heat is lost through the skin and into the air.

The muscles in the skin help increase heat loss by laying the hair flat, rather than up, to trap more heat. Skin glands also secrete sweat on the skin surface to increase evaporative heat loss. Your body will continue to sweat, releasing internal heat, until your body temperature returns to normal.

When your body’s core temperature rises, all of the innate processes set up to regulate your internal temperature break down, leading to serious and even life-threatening problems like organ damage and loss of consciousness.

Symptoms of heat stroke

Before heat stroke symptoms develop, you’ll experience some warning signs. In general, heat-related illnesses manifest in four stages, beginning with muscle cramps, leading to heat exhaustion, and ending with heat stroke.

Here is the breakdown in four stages:

1. Heat syncope (fainting)

Heat syncope, or fainting, occurs when your body tries to cool down, causing blood vessels to dilate in such a way that blood flow to the brain is reduced. This usually occurs when a person has worked outside or been physically active in a hot environment. In addition to passing out, a person experiencing heat stroke may feel dizzy, restless, and nauseated.

2. Heat Cramps

Heat cramps, also called muscle cramps, are one of the first signs of heat illness. It may feel like you’re tearing a muscle, even if you haven’t done anything strenuous.
Muscle aches and cramps are excellent signs that you are dehydrated and that you need to cool off and drink water before your symptoms worsen.

3. Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when the heat begins to make you feel uncomfortable and sick, causing symptoms such as the following

– profuse sweating
– weakness
– headache
– changes in pulse
– cold, pale and clammy skin
– nausea
– vomiting
– Fainting
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke.

4. Heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related illnesses. It is a medical emergency because it can cause severe brain damage, organ failure, and even death.

The most common symptoms of heat stroke are:

a body temperature above 40°
a fast, strong pulse
shallow breathing
hot, red, dry, or clammy skin
A strong headache
tired
minimal or no sweating, despite the heat
nausea and vomiting
muscular weakness
muscle cramps
dark colored urine
delirium
confusion
epileptic seizures
loss of consciousness
Heat stroke is very serious because it can lead to organ failure and even death. It immediately affects your cognitive function and can lead to deterioration.

In fact, research shows that around 20% of heat stroke patients experience long-term, irreversible brain damage. This is why some of the most common symptoms of heat stroke are delirium and confusion. Your nerve cells are especially vulnerable when your body overheats, and your brain is made up of these nerve cells.
When you experience heat stroke, your blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases. It also puts pressure on the heart.

Causes and risk factors

Data shows that when the heat index is above 35 degrees C, the number of deaths from heat illness increases. When you sweat in hot weather, you lose fluids and become dehydrated. If you don’t drink plenty of water to replace these fluids, you may develop symptoms of heat stroke. There are also factors that slow down the body’s ability to release heat to the environment in its attempt to regulate its core temperature. In addition to being in very hot temperatures, wearing dark or heavy clothing, being in direct sunlight, and being physically active are contributing factors.

Here are other risk factors:

People 65 years or older

Older people, ages 65 and older, have a harder time feeling their bodies overheat, so they don’t react quickly to signs of heat stroke. Older adults also have a higher rate of medications that can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses because they interfere with the way the body responds to stress and proper hydration.

babies and children

Babies and children depend on adults to keep them cool and hydrated. Additionally, they are more prone to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses due to their larger body surface area relative to their body mass. This allows a greater transfer of heat from the environment to the body. According to the researchers, children can’t evaporate heat as well as adults because little ones sweat more slowly and take longer to start sweating. Children are also less responsive to thirst and therefore may not realize they are becoming dehydrated.

People with chronic diseases.

Research indicates that the prevalence of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses is higher in people with lifelong medical conditions, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease. These conditions do not allow the body to adapt to changing environmental conditions as easily or quickly. People with mental illness are also at higher risk of heat stroke, as they may not be aware when the body is overheated or dehydrated. Social isolation is associated with adverse health effects of heat, so people who are often home alone may be more likely to develop symptoms of heat stroke.

The athletes :

The leading cause of death or disability in athletes who train or compete in high temperatures in late summer and early fall is heat-related illness. Research suggests the risk is particularly high in August.

People working outdoors

Heat stroke and heat-related illnesses are very common among people who work outdoors in hot climates. Workers at risk include firefighters, construction workers, farmers, soldiers, and manufacturing workers who work near heat generated by the process.

When a person experiences heat stroke, their body temperature should be lowered immediately and they should be hydrated intravenously until their fluid levels return to normal.
To prevent heat stroke naturally, drink plenty of water during the day, avoid dehydrating drinks, stay in an air-conditioned place, wear loose and light clothing, avoid direct sunlight, check that your medications do not interfere with your hydration and check on your loved ones. who are at risk for heat-related illnesses.

When is an emergency?

If you are around someone with signs and symptoms of heat stroke, such as shortness of breath, dry skin, fatigue, muscle weakness, and delirium, call emergency services immediately. Then move the person to a cool place. Try cooling her down by applying a cold compress or ice pack to her forehead or even pouring cold water over her body. Then wait for the professionals to take over. Don’t hesitate to call emergency services, as heat stroke is a serious medical emergency. Immediate treatment is vital.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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