Sunstroke

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Overview

Heatstroke is an emergency condition in which the basal temperature of the body rises to high temperatures (above 104 F or 40 C), usually as a result of prolonged exposure to, or physical exertion in extreme heat. If left untreated, heatstroke can cause significant damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, and muscles. The more the treatment is delayed, the more the damage progresses.

Causes

Sunstroke can occur by either of the two mechanisms:

  1. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures
  2. Strenuous activity

Whichever cause precipitates the stroke, the following risk factors predispose a person to develop the stroke:

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of sunstroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Altered mental state
  • Dry skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headache

Diagnosis

The following lab tests can confirm the diagnosis of a sunstroke:

  • Rectal temperature
  • Blood test
  • Urine test
  • Muscle function test
  • X rays and other imaging tests (to check for damage of internal organs)

Treatment

Treatment is aimed to bring the patients temperature down, by removing heat from the body. Following are the few measures that can be taken to do that:

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