The sun used to be a getaway from usual school, work and home routine. It put summer as the most anticipated season for vacations. But due to some climate changes, summer sun isn’t up for a half day lounge in the beach nor a sand castle play for kids, at times, it presents threat to health once it becomes unbearable.
Heat Stroke or Heat Stress
As said, it’s one thing to be hot, but it’s another thing to get sick from too much heat. Heat Stroke or Health Stress is a medical condition caused by unbearable warmth from the sun.
In January 2014, the world has experienced intense heat waves which are the 4th warmest on the world’s record. In Australia, the heat wave did not only last for a day but has covered five consecutive days breaking the country’s temperature records. This phenomenon has been first time to happen since the country’s recording of temperature begun in 1910. January 7 specifically is Australia’s hottest day recorded, averaged over the entire country.
These happening have given rise to the abovementioned medical condition that has affected many, many of whom often are unaware of the sun’s repercussion. Minor symptoms can include heat rash while worst case scenario may result to death. There can be ways to prevent these from happening though. First, being aware that that simple dizziness isn’t just a normal day spell but rather a start of something serious might save you from further demise. See heat stress symptoms below.
Heat Stroke Symptoms
Heat stroke symptoms may be experienced by both young and old people alike. Young kids though may start their heat agitations by showing irritability, restlessness. Older people may have fainting spells, or may start feeling confused and feeling weak.
Back in 2009, when heat wave lashed in Australia, 374 people are recorded to die from heat related causes aside from those affected by bush fires. Here are the known symptoms of heat stroke which at times are mistaken for a heart attack.
- One may experience nausea
- Muscle aches
- High body temperature
- Lack of sweat and skin flushing
- Breathing difficulty
- Rapid pulse
- Confusion, agitation, disorientation
Heat exposure may not only result to heat stroke; rather, it can result to other condition such as heat edema, rashes, cramps, exhaustion and syncope.
At Risk of Heat Stroke
Everybody who gets to be exposed under the sun can be at risk of heat stroke, but there are just those who have higher risk for it. Those who are deemed to be more susceptible include infants and kids, elderly with prior ill health condition, athletes who train under the sun and individuals who work outside a shelter.
Workers who lack proper hydration in workplaces such as construction sites, farms, food canneries, mining pits, etc also gets to have a high likelihood of heat stress. These people usually are in hot, cramped spaces, workplace which have little air circulation, and workers are even exerting more effort due to manual labor which induces exhaustion.
Workers in these kind of workplaces who are 65 years and older may have even higher peril. One’s medication may also have some effect on certain person under the heat exposure. For example, people who are under medication for mental illness may have higher chances of having the condition. Pregnant and nursing mothers should also watch for the sun since they are at the top of those who are at risk.
Reducing Heat Stress Risk
Reduction and prevention of heat stress among those who are at risk is necessary to save lives and avoid health complications. Now what do you have to do about it?
Employers and employees both have the accountability in this kind of situation. Some companies offer preventive measures through training of workers for them to understand heat stress which includes its definition, proper understanding, and health and safety measures as well as how it can be prevented.
For better measure, here are more tips to prevent it or what first aid to administer in case it happens.
- Avoid dehydration. Drink water from time to time especially if you are under the sun. Fruit juices can be good as well. IF it isn’t work related, avoid physical activities which may lead to exhaustion.
- When performing physical activities avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soft drinks. Stay away from alcohol. These may lead to dehydration. Instead, have some more water.
- Replenish on electrolytes since it usually is lost when one sweats excessively.
- Use sunscreen and slip on some sunglasses.
- Avoid hot foods, instead eat cool foods.
- Use fans for cooling.
- Wear light clothes, protect self with hats or umbrellas, and keep your outfit loose.
- For workers, taking a break, fanning yourself a little while replenishing fluids can be few simple tips.
- Never leave infants on locked cars. And when about to use a car, make sure the heat has been let out before you get inside it.
- Shorten periods of time under the sun.
- In case of heat exhaustion, fan patient and wet skin his or her skin while calling emergency number.
- Icepack on a patient’s groin, neck, back and armpits can lower temperature and cool down the body.
- Bath the person and immerse them in an ice bath.
- Call the hospital for additional instruction if help has not yet arrived.
- For the patient, after recovery, avoid any sun and vigorous activities until advised otherwise.
Heat stroke is a deadly hazard for summer, the right and proper action to combat it is needed to avoid its repercussions. Death and permanent disability can be avoided as long as one is attuned to one’s own body, tracking any feeling of discomfort which starts to arise during a hot day.
And in case emergency arises, always ask and call for help. And with unpredictable weather changes, the advent of crazy heat waves, there comes the difference between enjoying the sun and getting yourself victimized by its heat.
Image Credit: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr