Summer is upon us. Despite the bounty it brings — a delightful abundance of halo-halo and summer fruits — the soaring temperatures cause a condition that’s just as frightening as COVID-19: heat stroke. The most serious form of heat injury, heat stroke could cause damage your vital organs and if left untreated, could cause permanent disability.
Heat stroke is no joke.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke occurs when the body fails to control its temperature.
Through sweating, the body regulates its temperature and keeps a person cool. However, in some circumstances, the body fails to cool down, and its internal temperature rises rapidly — beyond the normal temperature range where organs could function normally. The body temperature could rise to up to 41°C (106°F) or even higher within 10 to 15 minutes.
There are a lot of culprits to heat stroke, but during the Philippine summer, the hot and humid weather is to blame. Combine it with dehydration, direct exposure to sunlight, or vigorous exercise, you become more vulnerable to heat stroke. Moreover, some groups of people, like infants and the elderly, have a delicate constitution and are, therefore, more susceptible to the glaring heat.
How Do You Know If It’s Heat Stroke?
So how do you know if it’s just uncomfortable heat or it’s a warning sign of heat stroke? Watch for these symptoms:
- A very high fever (41°C or higher)
- Warm, blushing skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Unnatural fatigue
What Should You Do?
If you spot these symptoms, act fast. Heat stroke could damage the vital organs.
- If the person is outdoors, move them to the shade or bring them indoors and out of the sun.
- If the person is already indoors, move them to a cooler part of the house.
- Keep the person cool. Fan them or direct the blast of air from an electric fan toward them.
- Have them lie down. Raise their legs above chest level and prop them on pillows.
- If the person can drink, give them cold water.
- Remove as much of the clothing as possible and apply cool water to the skin.
- Apply an ice pack or crushed ice covered in soft cloth to the groin, armpits, wrists, and ankles.
Bear in mind that heat stroke is a medical emergency — it’s not something that should be left untreated. So if you think someone is experiencing a heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.
Avoid Heatstroke at Home
We can’t do much about the summer heat of the tropics. However, you could reduce the risk of heat stroke with preventive measures:
Bring a bottle of water wherever you are — even at home. Make sure it’s within reach, so you remember to drink it.
Reduce consumption of other beverages.
As much as possible, avoid tea, coffee, and alcohol. Swap them with water.
Use protective gear when outdoors.
If you’re going out on an essential activity, wear hats and sunglasses.
Wear proper clothing.
Keep your clothing light and airy during summer.
These small habits can help prevent a serious attack of heat stroke. During these times — when it is a challenge to get medical services — it pays to be extra careful and vigilant about our health.