The effects of extreme heat

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is very serious and can be fatal. It occurs when the body’s thermal regulating mechanism no longer functions; consequently, the body’s temperature increases to a very dangerous level. The person feels ill and has a high temperature. Several symptoms can indicate an attack of heat stroke: serious neurological disorders (loss of consciousness, convulsions…), cardiovascular difficulties, skin reactions (burning sensation in the skin, dry throat and tongue) digestive trouble (nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea).

Heat stroke traditionally occurs without exerting any physical effort – during a summer heat wave or in situations that are abnormally hot. It usually affects either very young children or elderly adults. It must be distinguished from physically-induced hyperthermia, which often affects marathon runners or military personnel who have demonstrated intense and prolonged physical effort in hot, humid conditions. Heat stroke indications are irregular, and can include cramps or other anomalies after being exposed for long periods to very high temperatures. Usually, heat stroke can be treated successfully but it requires fast emergency medical care. The victim must be cooled down and rehydrated immediately. Get the victim in the shade, give him/her cold drinks, remove their clothing and cover them in a wet sheet. Fan them frequently and contact the fire department or the ambulance company immediately.

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