Heatstroke

Heatstroke is caused by failure of the body’s temperature control system when exposed to excessively high temperatures. Typical symptoms include a headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

Overview

Heatstroke is caused by failure of the body’s temperature control system when exposed to excessively high temperatures. Typical symptoms include a headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion. Depending on the extent of the damage, the consequences can be life-threatening. Drinking enough and taking breaks to cool off reduce the risk of heatstroke.

Symptoms

  • Feeling very hot, the skin is red and hot to the touch
  • Headache, nausea and dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Unsteady gait (“unsteady on the feet”)
  • Delirious, ranting
  • Disorientation, finally loss of consciousness

In the worst case, heatstroke can lead to circulatory and cardiac arrest.

Causes and treatment

Causes

The following can cause the body to overheat:

  • Hot weather (in particular in combination with high humidity)
  • Sauna that is too hot
  • Uncontrollably high fever
  • Dehydration of body owing to water loss (leading to inability to sweat)
  • Effects of medication or drugs

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Careful investigation of the body’s functions, in particular the cardiovascular system
    • Pulse, blood pressure, temperature, breathing, oxygen saturation, etc.
Possible therapies
  • Cooling
  • Intravenous fluid replacement
  • Medical observation until the symptoms improve

What can I do myself?

  • Wear the appropriate clothes for the temperature (in particular headcover)
  • Take regular breaks
  • Drink enough

Measures while waiting for the doctor

  • Put the patient in a bath filled with cool tap water, if possible
  • If not, wrap them in wet cloths
  • Fan them, switch on a cooling fan

In the case of children, the cooling process should be applied slowly and with great care.

When to see a doctor?

The emergency medical services or a doctor should always be called if heatstroke is suspected or confirmed.

Synonyms

sunstroke, heat exhaustion, fever

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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