Welcome to the second article by Dr Ali on the problems with too much sun.
Click here to read the first article about sunburn.
The conditions caused by over-heating are known as heatstroke and sunstroke. Heatstroke and sunstroke are similar conditions. Sunstroke is the name for heatstroke when you’ve developed it by being in the sun
Heatstroke and sunstroke
Being careful when it’s hot isn’t just a question of avoiding sunburn, being too hot can have a dangerous effect on your whole body.
Normal body temperature is between 36.5º -37º C. It is controlled by the heat centre in the brain.
*Na & K – potassium depletion
When you stay in the hot sun for a long time it can lead to dehydration which causes the core body temperature to rise. The heat centre loses its ability to function normally due to edema (swelling) in the brain cells and your temperature can rise to more than 40ºC. (The cell degeneration could be permanent if you don’t start cooling the body down).
Sunstroke and heatstroke are potentially life-threatening conditions if you get too hot.
Symptom and Signs
- Red and dry skin
- High temperature (41º-42º C)
- Loss of consciousness
- Increase in heartbeat/rapid pulse
- Absence of sweating
- Feeling desperately thirsty
Preventing heatstroke and sunstroke
- Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
- If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf
- Avoid extreme physical exertion
- Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes
- Have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
- Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Sprinkle water over your skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck
If left untreated, more severe symptoms of heatstroke can develop, including confusion, disorientation, seizures (fits) and a loss of consciousness.
It is important to decrease the body temperature:
- Move to a cool place and stay there
- Take a shower (moderate heat but not cold water)
- Drink cold fluids – avoid alcohol
- Apply a damp towel to the head, armpits and groin
- Use a fan to lower the temperature
- Continue until sweating re starts
When to call a doctor
You should call a doctor if the person has severe symptoms, such as loss of consciousness or doesn’t respond to the above treatment within 30 minutes.
Doctors and hospitals
If you do need a doctor during your stay there are clinics in most areas which are mostly open 24 hours during the peak summer season
The local hospitals also provide emergency medical care