What is Heat Stroke and Its Symptoms

What is Heat Stroke?

Human body usually regulates its temperature. When it gets too hot it tries to cool down by any means, including sweating. Although if a person spends a lot of time in a heat without drinking enough, the cooling processes in his body can’t work in the right way. It becomes dehydrated and doesn’t cool itself by sweating. The body’s temperature rises very high and makes the person sick.

The First Symptoms

The first symptoms of the illness start with the higher body temperature, a person may feel headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, vomiting and fatigue. These symptoms are known as heat exhaustion. If the body temperature in not reduced at that moment, the condition may worsen, moving to a heat stroke.

Factors that contribute to heat stroke are:

  • Wearing heavy or bulky clothing in the heat
  • Dehydration from not drinking enough water
  • Excessive weight
  • Being unaccustomed to heat, change of climate
  • Heat stroke experience in the past
  • Some medications like diuretics, antihistamines, laxatives, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and medicines for Parkinson’s disease
  • Use of cocaine, amphetamines, heroin and ecstasy
  • Staying in a poorly ventilated living space

The Main Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Though heat stroke can happen unexpectedly, there are some warning symptoms that appear first:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of sweat or heavy sweat

Once the heat stroke occurs, the following neurological symptoms appear:

  • Irritability
  • Bizarre or odd behaviour
  • Delusions
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma

Once you feel the symptoms you need to consult a doctor, who will do some tests to determine the causes of high temperature. The tests may include CT scan of the head, a lumbar puncture and blood tests.

The doctor may also take urine and blood tests to see how kidneys are functioning. Heat stroke can cause a big stress for kidneys.

Expected Duration

Usually a person with heat stroke has to stay in a hospital for a couple of days, so the doctors can identify any complications (if there are any). Full recovery from heat stroke may take about 2 months to a year.