|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 42, Tuesday April 26, 2005|
The heat stroke
Exhausted! The summer has been exceptionally merciless to us as if the brutal scorching rays of the sun are determined to show us a glimpse of hell. The body gets worn out very easily. The constant sweating dismisses all the efforts of cooling down and in the end, a sickening feeling greets us with the promise of more. It is often that we hear of people getting sick due to exposure to high temperature. This condition is referred to as a 'heat stroke', which is the rise of body heat following exposure to very high environmental temperature. It is a kind of heat illness relating to the body's inability to cope up with heat. But heat stroke is the most severe form of heat related illnesses as body temperature higher than 41.1C (106F), resulting from heat stroke, is associated with neurological dysfunction.
During the hot weather, if a person is not properly equipped with hydration or proper clothing, a heat stroke may develop. Although heat stroke occurs in hot weather, there are other factors involved. These are, non-acclimatization to high temperatures, pre-existing illness with fever, high humidity, obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, excessive muscular activity and administration of sweat inhibiting drugs. There are several indications of heat stroke symptoms in a person. Typically the patient's temperature exceeds 41 C. The skin of the affected person is hot and dry and breathing rate is high, usually shallow and intermittent. The pupils may become fixed, dilated, pinpoint or normal. The brain is eventually affected resulting in restlessness, disorientation, confusion, convulsion, headaches, and dizziness and even coma. Bleeding from nose may be present along with a strong and rapid pulse. The blood pressure usually stays normal but low blood pressure will indicate a more serious life-threatening situation called shock. In this situation the blood circulation of the body is reduced, ultimately resulting in death.
There are two forms of heat stroke. These are, Exertional heatstroke (EHS) and classic Nonexertional heatstroke (NEHS). EHS generally occurs in young individuals like athletes, firefighters and military personnel who engage in strenuous physical activity for a prolonged period of time in a hot environment. The common symptoms of EHS are abdominal and muscular cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and weakness along with occasional loss of consciousness. NEHS occurs during episodes of prolonged elevations in ambient temperature and generally effects people like elderly persons, individuals who are chronically ill, and infants. The symptoms of NEHS include hallucinations, seizures, cranial nerve abnormalities, cerebella dysfunction, irritability to delusions, irrational behaviour and even coma.
Mortality from heatstroke are related to the duration of the temperature elevation. The mortality rate may be as high as 80% if the therapy is delayed. Full recovery has been observed in patients with temperatures as high as 46C and death has occurred in patients with much lower temperatures. But temperatures that exceed 106F or 41C generally are catastrophic and require immediate aggressive therapy. Considering the same risk factors and same environmental conditions, heatstroke affects both genders equally. But infants, children and elderly persons have a higher incidence of heatstroke than young, healthy adults.
Since heatstroke is a medical emergency, the rapid reduction of the core body temperature is the basis of treatment. Once heatstroke is suspected, cooling must begin immediately and must be continued during the patient's resuscitation. Removal of restrictive clothing and spraying water on the body, covering the patient with ice water-soaked sheets or placing ice packs on the groin may reduce the patient's temperature significantly. If the patient starts to shiver, the cooling process should be slowed, as shivering will increase the core temperature of the body. Temperature should be taken approximately in every 10 minutes to avoid a continued temperature drop, which could result in hypothermia. Patients diagnosed with EHS and NEHS should be admitted to the hospital for at least 48 hours to monitor for complications. However, since it is a medical emergency it is best to transport the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.
But precaution is always better than cure. There are a few steps out there, which could help us a great deal in surviving the scorching summer days. And these involve remaining in shaded areas as much as possible, avoiding carbonated, alcoholic or caffeine containing liquids, trying not to over exert oneself so as to increase the body's temperature to harmful levels, wearing light coloured and slightly loose fitting clothes and of course, drinking lots of fluids like water and juice.
By Obaidur Rahman
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New international quality toothpaste Everyday
Ltd launched new international quality toothpaste Everyday to provide
complete oral care for all. Enriched with fluoride, new Everyday toothpaste
brings sparkling whiteness to teeth. Regular use provides long-lasting
protection from cavities and keeps the gums healthy and strong. It has
a pleasant flavour that leaves the mouth feeling fresh. Everyday toothpaste
is now available throughout the country in two convenient sizes. The
price of a 100gm Everyday pack is Tk 20, while a 200gm pack costs Tk
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