With global temperatures rising, Indian summers take a heavy toll on life. As the temperatures soar above 48-50 degrees in places like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, unable to withstand high temperatures people generally fall prey to heat stroke that occurs when a person becomes dehydrated and their body temperature rises above 40.5C.
Sunstroke is a severe form of heat stroke, and if it is not treated quickly, can endanger life. It is a medical emergency and can lead to death. So if your daily routine makes you step out in sun every day, or involves you in organising a large event or sports activity, or work in a hot environment, you should develop a heat stroke prevention plan.
What is sunstroke?
Heat stress occurs when the body becomes dehydrated and is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Much like a thermostat, our body has a mechanism to control the temperature to regulate the system to help the body stay cool in summer and warm in winters. But when the body is exposed to excessive heat, it starts losing water to excessive perspiration and when this water content does not get replenished, the body starts consuming water from the blood stream which directly impacts the brain and heart and, this excessive dehydration eventually leads to a sunstroke.
Anyone can suffer from heat stroke, but those most at risk are:
– People over 65 years, particularly those living alone or without air conditioning
– Babies and young children
– Pregnant and nursing mothers
– People who have existing medical conditions, especially with heart disease, high blood pressure or lung disease
– People on medications for mental illness.
Symptoms of sunstroke include:
Dizziness, Headache, Rapid pulse rate, High fever, Rise in body temperature, Unconsciousness, Nausea, Hallucinations, Convulsion.
Treatment of sunstroke:
Every minute’s delay in cooling a person with heat stroke increases the likelihood of permanent injury or death. Apply first aid and seek medical assistance immediately if you, or someone you are with, shows any sign of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Prevention of sunstroke:
– Schools switch to summer timings after exams but you still need to take care that on the way back children do not linger about in the sun to play and get back home quickly.
– Adults should try to avoid going out in the heat between noon and 3pm.
– The elderly at home should be made to drink water at intervals even if they are not thirsty. As the constitution is weak in old age the body can still develop heat stroke conditions even while at home in front of the cooler.
– Wear loose fitting, light cotton clothes is a good idea.
– Keep plenty of cool drinking water available for everyone.
– Avoid excessive physical activity in the mid day. Workouts and practices should be completed in the cool early morning hours.
– Before going out in the sun, it is good to drink tamarind juice. It is helpful in preventing heat stroke.
(With inputs from Hindu News Netwwork)