What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is also known as hyperthermia. It is a condition that occurs when the body becomes overheated as a result of being exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. More specifically, heat stroke occurs when your internal body temperature is greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Simply being in the sun/hot weather for a long time can cause heat stroke. Some people may think heat stroke can be taken lightly, but it is actually a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. About 334 people in the United States die each year from heatstroke.

Heatstroke symptoms include:

·         High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F or higher.

·         Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, or seizures.

·         Changes in perspiration. Heatstroke caused by hot weather will make your skin feel hot and dry to the touch. Heatstroke caused by strenuous exercise will make your skin feel moist.

·         Nausea and vomiting.

·         Flushed or red skin.

·         Rapid or shallow breathing.

·         Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress makes your heart muscle work harder to try and keep your body cool.

·         Throbbing headache.

Risk factors for heat stroke:

·         Age. Being aged 4 or under or being over age 65 increases your risk for developing heatstroke. Being able to tolerate high temperatures depends how strong your central nervous system is. Young children do not have a fully developed central nervous system and people over age 65 have a central nervous system that begins to deteriorate. This makes it more difficult to tolerate high temperatures at these ages. These age groups also tend to be less hydrated.

·         Physical exertion in hot weather. Playing sports or exercising in hot weather can increase your risk for developing heatstroke.

·         Sudden exposure to hot weather. People may be more likely to develop heatstroke in early summer or if they travel to an area with hot weather during their normal winter. Sudden exposure to hot weather before being fully adapted to the high temperatures can make people more susceptible to heatstroke.

·         Certain medications. Taking vasoconstrictors, beta blockers, diuretics, antidepressants or antipsychotics may affect your body's ability to stay hydrated and respond to heat. Stimulants can do this as well.

·         Certain health conditions. Heart disease, lung disease, obesity, or having a condition that causes you to be sedentary may increase your risk of heatstroke.