When summer hits, heat waves are never far behind! If you see the thermometer hovering around 30°C, you know it is time to take extra precautions to avoid heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s cooling system fails, causing internal temperatures to reach levels as high as 41°C. Signs of heatstroke include dizziness, confusion, rapid pulse, nausea possibly accompanied by vomiting, profuse sweating and, in more severe cases, the absence of perspiration, leaving skin clammy and moist. These symptoms can be followed by respiratory and circulatory problems and damage to internal organs, including the brain. Heatstroke is a major cause for concern and requires emergency medical attention.
The following groups are most at risk for classic, non-exertional heatstroke:
- Seniors and young children
- People with heart problems
- People with mental health issues
- Diabetics with unmanaged glucose levels
- Alcoholic people
- People using drugs, such as cocaine
- People who are obese
- Individuals taking antihistamines, neuroleptics or diuretics
Basic prevention measures
Here are some guidelines to follow when temperatures are elevated:
- Seniors and people at risk for heatstroke who live alone should make sure they have someone to call on every day in case a problem arises;
- Have young children drink water often and keep them in the shade, as much as possible;
- When outside or in a place without air conditioning, drink water frequently;
- When indoors: (if you do not have air conditioning), open the windows and create a breeze using fans;
- Look for shade or go to air-conditioned public places (shopping centres, libraries, etc.);
- Avoid sunburns (sunscreen; lightweight, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing; large-brimmed hat; etc.).
If you think you may be suffering from heatstroke or if you have questions on the subject, talk to your pharmacist. He or she can help you by answering your questions and pointing you in the right direction.