SCRIPT NUMBER 123 HEATSTROKE - 2 (ONE SPEAKER)

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1 SCRIPT NUMBER 123 HEATSTROKE - 2 (ONE SPEAKER) PROGRAM NAME: HEALTH NUGGETS PROGRAM TITLE: HEATSTROKE - 2 PROGRAM NUMBER: 123 SUBJECT: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, COMPLICATIONS, TREATMENT OF HEAT-RELATED CONDITIONS KEY WORDS: HEAT CRAMPS, HEAT EXHAUSTION, EVAPORATION DATE OF SCRIPT: AUGUST 2, 2013 AUTHOR: RICHARD YUKL, MD, FACS Anna is a registered nurse from the United States who recently went on a shortterm mission trip to assist with a medical program in Puyo, Ecuador, a place with a climate much different from where she lives. One particularly warm and humid day, she took a long walk in the rain forest surrounding the city. She found it fascinating to see animals jump from the trees to greet her, and she remained in the forest longer than she had planned. As time passed, she became aware that she had begun to sweat profusely. She became thirsty, but she couldn t drink because she had forgotten to bring her water bottle with her. She began feeling muscle cramps and decided to return to the city without further delay. On her return walk, she developed a severe headache and lightheadedness. Her

2 medical training was sufficient to tell her that she was suffering heat exhaustion, and that, if she didn t get treatment, she could develop life-threatening heatstroke. Today, I want to talk about heatstroke, a serious medical condition that occurs when one s body temperature rises to more than 40 degrees Centigrade, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. We were created with a sophisticated mechanism to regulate our body s temperature. That mechanism will adapt to the extremes in temperature and humidity we experience, and to strenuous physical exertion. The mechanism can, however, become overwhelmed, especially early on before adaptation has occurred. If not treated quickly, our body s inability to maintain a normal temperature can lead to permanent damage of our internal organs, or even cause death. Heatstroke is a worsening of two less severe heat-related health medical conditions, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. When one s body overheats, it first will develop heat cramps. If it isn t cooled down, it will progress to symptoms of heat exhaustion. We will examine both of these conditions starting with heat cramps. Heat cramps can occur in very hot weather and humidity, or with moderate to heavy physical activity. Symptoms include profuse sweating, tiredness, thirst and muscle cramps. Anna placed herself into a situation in which her body was not

3 able to cool itself rapidly enough, and she developed those very symptoms. You can treat heat cramps by drinking water or fluids such as sports drinks, which replace the salt and fluids lost through sweating, by resting, and by moving to a cool area such as into shade or an air-conditioned room. Without treatment, the body s temperature will continue to rise, and one will develop heat exhaustion with symptoms that include a headache, dizziness or lightheadedness and nausea. Because the body continues its attempt to cool itself through heavy sweating and sweat evaporation, the skin feels cool and moist. Anna began noticing heat exhaustion symptoms when she developed a severe headache along with lightheadedness. The treatment remains the same as for heat cramps. You need to drink water or sports drinks, and move to a cool, shaded area or to an air-conditioned room. Showering with cool water can also help lower one s body temperature, relieving heat exhaustion symptoms. Anna s symptoms cleared when her friends found her and moved her to shade, giving her water to drink. Heatstroke symptoms will occur once the body s temperature reaches more than 40 degrees Centigrade. Sweating stops because the body s heat control system fails. Skin turns red and feels hot but dry to the touch. The body has lost so much fluid that dangerously low blood pressure may develop. The high body temperatures will begin to cause brain damage, and one may experience a throbbing headache, hallucinations, and seizures. You may have difficulty

4 speaking or understanding others. You may even lose consciousness. Early on, your muscles may feel tender or cramped. Later, they will become either rigid or limp. Once heatstroke has developed, you need immediate medical attention to prevent permanent brain damage, organ failure or even death. You must reduce your body temperature as quickly as possible. You or your doctor need to immerse your body in a cold-water bath or ice water, or wrap your body in a special cooling blanket with your groin, neck, back and armpits packed with ice. What are the risk factors for heat stroke? The very young and the very old are at increased risk. In both age groups, their ability to cope with extreme heat is lessened because their body cannot sweat rapidly enough to lower the body s temperature effectively. Another risk factor is not being accustomed to high temperatures or high humidity. It takes several weeks for one s body to adapt to these changes. Also, if you work outdoors, you are at an increased risk compared to a person who spends most of their time indoors in air-conditioned rooms. Finally, medicines such as antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, or medicines that rid the body of salt and water will place one at an increased risk. And, if you drink alcohol, or use street drugs such as narcotics and amphetamines, you are at an increased risk.

5 Even though heatstroke is serious, it can be prevented. Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing that allows your body to cool by sweating if you must be outdoors in hot and humid weather. It is best not to exercise or do unnecessarily strenuous activity outdoors in hot weather. If you must work outdoors, try to schedule the physical labor during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or in the evening. Find as cool an environment as possible on hot days. Rest frequently and drink plenty of fluids to replenish your fluids during times you must be outdoors in warm or hot weather. Drink water or sports drinks, but don t drink beverage that contain alcohol or caffeine as these drinks may interfere with your body s ability to control its temperature. Health Nuggets is written by Dr. Richard Yukl, a medical doctor working in the United States. The medical views expressed in this program are his and may differ for your particular health needs. If you need medical advice, please consult a medical professional in your area.

SCRIPT NUMBER 123 HEATSTROKE - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS)

SCRIPT NUMBER 123 HEATSTROKE - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS) SCRIPT NUMBER 123 HEATSTROKE - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS) PROGRAM NAME: HEALTH NUGGETS PROGRAM TITLE: HEATSTROKE - 2 PROGRAM NUMBER: 123 SUBJECT: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, COMPLICATIONS, TREATMENT OF HEAT-RELATED CONDITIONS

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