Before the weather starts getting unbearably hot, we should have a little discussion about heat stroke; who’s more susceptible to it, how to avoid it, and the symptoms. 

Last year, my husband came pretty close to having permanent injuries cause by heat exhaustion/stroke. In the summer, he attended a military training. During a morning PT (physical training) run he began to experience the following symptoms; Rapid heart beat (easy to ignore since heat stroke is often a result of physical activity), excessive sweating followed by barely any sweat at all, confusion, inability to speak coherently, dizziness, fatigue, lack of coordination, and headache. He felt like he was going to faint and began to black out but luckily he was able to make it to a shower with cold water and maintain consciousness while his roommate summoned help. Pretty scary stuff. If he had passed out he would have experienced what the military call “the silver bullet”. This is when a medic wants the most accurate body temperature reading which just so happens to be rectally. You’re welcome for that mental image. Often these symptoms can progress even further to loss of consciousness, coma, and even death.

He was taken to medical where they pumped him full of IV fluids and did test after test. Often times doctors want to keep an eye on vitals to make sure lasting damage in the form of brain damage, internal organ damage, or rhabdomyolysis when muscle tissue breaks down and floods the bloodstream and the kidneys are damaged enough to be unable to remove this waste. You need your kidneys, folks.

There was a bit of concern when my husband called me from training and told me his urine was still incredibly dark. I was shocked that they didn’t want to admit him for overnight observation and told him to go back to medical if his symptoms didn’t improve after further hydration. Luckily, he didn’t have to go back but a complication with one of his tests require medical follow-up once he was home. Don’t worry, he’s fine now.

In the warmer months, you should acclimatize your body to the temperatures outside if that is where you are being active. If you work in an office building that feels like there’s a constant arctic chill in the air, then you will want to slowly introduce your body to hot weather. Exercise in the morning is best or the late evening. Do your best to bring a sports drink with electrolytes and make sure you are well hydrated in the days leading up to hot days. Most importantly use your best judgment. If your area is experiencing record breaking heat don’t go for a run… not even a jog. Take this opportunity to cross train indoors or indulge in a pool workout.

Susceptibility:

  • over the age of 50, but even trained athletes should be aware of their bodies reactions to heat
  • constant exposure to mild temperatures then going to extreme heat
  • current dehydration

What to do if you come across someone you suspect of experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  • call 911, whether they are responsive or not and take their temperature if you are able
  • get them into an air conditioned area or at the very least a cooler, shaded area
  • remove excess clothing like shirts, socks, and shoes
  • put ice packs on neck, armpits, and groin (locations of lymph nodes) or get them into an ice bath or cold shower/pool

Note: I am not a medical professional. If you have any concerns related to heat stroke contact your personal physician.

 

Now get out there and enjoy the sunshine safely!

 

 

 

 

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