Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two forms of hyperthermia that are less severe, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that can be fatal if not properly and promptly treated.
The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by either radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity or vigorous exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises.
Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.
Those most susceptible to heart strokes include: infants, the elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to heat strokes), athletes, and outdoor workers physically exerting themselves under the sun.
The symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before progressing to heat strokes.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and dizziness. However, some individuals can develop symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning. Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heat stroke. But common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include: high body temperature the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin rapid pulse difficulty breathing strange behavior hallucinations confusion agitation and disorientation.
Bottom line: On a day like today be careful. Drink plenty of water, take breaks if you work outside, wear loose fitting light colored clothes and spend plenty of time with the air conditioner.