Sunstroke is a condition that develops when the body cannot control the temperature of the body. It occurs when the body is exposed to excess heat. Although the symptoms are similar, sunstroke is more severe than heatstroke and is often considered a life-threatening condition.
Causes of Sunstroke
The human body is a well oiled machine, and likes to work at a certain temperature. The body will from time to time regulate the body in order to get warm (cause you to shake), or to cool down (sweat). Sometimes, when the body is exposed to excess heat, the body’s cooling system fails. When this happens exposure to excess temperature, heat and sun are the most significant causes of sunstroke. Dehydration (lack of water) can also result in sunstroke. Dehydration is a condition that arises when there is a loss of fluids caused due to excess perspiration or other bodily fluids (urine for example). If a person does not drink adequate amounts of water when suffering from dehydration, the body may take water from the bloodstream. This affects the normal functioning of the heat-regulating system as well as that of the heart.
Symptoms of Sunstroke
Mild sunstroke symptoms include
- Dry, red and scaly skin due to loss of water from the body. (NOTE: you stop sweating when you’re lacking water in the body).
- Rapid pulse rate
- High fever
- Rise in body temperature
Sunburn is also likely but many believe it is NOT a symptom.
Urine color may also darken due to excess dehydration.
NOTE: Children and the elderly are more prone to sunstroke than young adults.
Seek medical help.
One of the key things to remember is that the body is over-heated, and lowering the body temperature is the primary treatment of sunstroke. The sunstroke victim should be bathed with cool water or covered in cool (damp to wet) towels to lower the temperature. Ice packs can also be used for the same purpose (be mindful, this could send the person into shock). Secondly, it is essential to treat dehydration by drinking water or electrolytic fluids. In the case of severe dehydration – intravenous (IV) fluids may be required. Doctors may also prescribe medications as well.