Sunstroke

March 2017


Definition


Sunstroke is defined as the set of symptoms occurring during an overexposure to sunlight. The body has mechanisms to control its internal temperature and keep it consistently around 37 ∞ C, the thermal equilibrium point of the body. This is partly made possible by the hypothalamus, a gland that manages phenomena such as sweat and thirst to compensate. In the case of excessive muscular effort or exposure to excessive heat for too long a period, compensation mechanisms can be overwhelmed. An increase in body temperature appears, called hyperthermia, which can result in symptoms like those of insolation, sometimes called "heat stroke." In extreme cases, it is called malignant hyperthermia. Fragile bodies are more sensitive, especially the elderly, since the aging of certain functions reduces adaptive capacity and the sensation of thirst.

Symptoms


Symptoms of exposure include:
  • an increase in body temperature, which can rise above 40 ∞ C;
  • redness, especially in the face;
  • excessive sweating;
  • headache;
  • widespread pain;
  • pale, with feeling of discomfort;
  • muscle cramps;
  • dizziness;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • increased heart rate;
  • an increase in respiratory rate;
  • confusion;
  • flatulence.

In the most severe cases, neurological signs may appear: this is a precursor to malignant hyperthermia.

Diagnosis


The diagnosis of sunstroke is fairly easy to make. A doctor will observe the physical signs and symptoms that confirm a specific context, namely, prolonged sun exposure.

Treatment


Sunstroke should not be neglected, because of its potential progression to severe disorders. It requires an immediate lowering of the body temperature. To do this, there are first simple actions to make, such lying the person down in a cool, shaded place, making him drink plenty of water and wetting his limbs and head. Once the temperature is back down, the individual is out of danger. In the most severe cases, hospitalization is required.

Prevention


Prevention of exposure is by protection against the sun's rays. Avoid exposing yourself without wearing hat and make sure to drink regularly because dehydration can be fatal.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff.
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