Heatstroke causes, effects, symptoms, and first-aid treatment.

Our body heat is generated by basal metabolic activity and muscle movement and lost by conduction (which is more effective in water than in air), convection, evaporation, and radiation (most important at lower temperatures when other mechanisms conserve heat). During outdoor activity, most of the people got affected due to heatstroke. That causes serious damage to the body, know profoundly about Heatstroke causes, effects, symptoms and, first aid treatment.

Body temperature is controlled in the hypothalamus, which is directly sensitive to changes in core temperature and indirectly responds to temperature-sensitive neurons in the skin.

The normal temperature for the human body is regulated within 37 ± 0.5 °C, which is necessary to preserve all the normal function of many enzymes and other metabolic processes.

Balancing of the body heat production with heat loss which is achieved by a combination of physiological mechanisms (as peripheral vasodilatation or vasoconstriction, changes in heart rate, sweating or shivering) and behavioral mechanisms (increase or decrease in voluntary physical activity, seeking appropriate shelter, etc).

In addition, environmental conditions, viz. temperature, humidity and speed of air also greatly determine whether a person will be subjected to thermal stress.

What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40 °C and produces a life-threatening condition. It occurs due to body overheating which occurs due to continuous exposure or doing any physical exertion at high temperature. This mostly occurs in the summer seasons.

This condition requires emergency treatment as it can produce severe damage to other vital organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.

Situations in which heatstroke occurs

Adverse effects of heat stress are an important cause of morbidity and mortality not only in developing countries but in developed countries as well.

In India, 3,194 deaths due to heatstroke (HS) have been recorded over the 5-year period 1999 to 2003; the actual magnitude may be much more. The central and northern plains, western deserts and tropical forest areas of north-east have environmental conditions causing heat stress during the months of April to September.

Persons who are at high risk of heatstroke

Extremes of age (<5 years or >65 years)

  • Pregnancy
  • Occupation—workers in military, agricultural, construction and industrial settings, laborers, sports-persons, and miners
  • Low level of physical fitness
  • Lack of acclimatization to environmental heat
  • Obesity
  • High ambient temperature, high atmospheric humidity, low air velocity
  • Alcohol use—acute and chronic
  • Skin diseases—extensive prickly heat, psoriasis, pyoderma
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Co-existing febrile illness, renal, thyroid, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases
  • Previous history of heat-illness
  • Use of drugs or habit-forming substances—phenothiazine, anticholinergics,
  • ACE-inhibitors, MAO-inhibitors, cocaine, amphetamines, antihistamines

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