How to Recognize and Treat Heat Stroke During the Summer

Being outside during summer gives you and your family a chance to enjoy the fresh air, but it can also put you at risk of heat stroke. Heat stroke can quickly lead to serious complications without prompt care. Find out how to spot the signs of this dangerous condition this summer.

When heat stroke occurs, it is important to seek emergency medical care to prevent severe complications that could become fatal. Knowing more about heat stroke, including how to recognize it and what immediate steps to take, can help you and your family stay safe this summer. Keep in mind that you can stop by our drugstore pharmacy to stock up on ice packs and other supplies that you might need for heat stroke.

Causes of Heat Stroke

Heat stroke happens when your body temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, which can result in serious and irreversible damage to your kidneys, brain and other major organs. Being exposed to hot temperatures, especially for long periods of time, can cause heat stroke to occur. Doing strenuous exercise in the heat can also lead to this condition.

Your risk of having heat stroke increases if you’re wearing too much clothing or drinking alcohol. Being older, having heart disease or other medical conditions or being dehydrated can also raise your risk of this condition. Certain medications can also lead to a higher heat stroke risk. Questions to ask a pharmacist this summer include what kinds of medications can increase this risk.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

The symptoms of heat stroke that are easy to notice include the following:

  • Flushed or reddish skin
  • Skin that feels dry and hot to the touch
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • Feelings of nausea with or without vomiting

Other signs of heat stroke that occur include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Throbbing headache
  • A body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

When this condition becomes worse, symptoms that can occur include:

  • Sudden irritability, confusion or other changes in behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures

Immediate Care

When someone you know shows signs of heat stroke, you should get emergency medical care by calling 911 or going to your local emergency room if it’s close by. In the meantime, you should take steps to lower the person’s body temperature by doing the following:

  • Move to a cooler place, such as an indoor area with air conditioning or a shady area outside.
  • Use ice packs on the neck, head, groin and armpit areas to help lower the person’s body temperature quickly.
  • If ice packs are not available, use a sponge soaked in cool water, a garden hose or a tub of cool water.
  • Avoid giving the person any sugary drinks. Offer water instead to help the person rehydrate.

If you need first aid supplies or medicine this summer, please contact Smith-Caldwell Drug Store by calling (501) 392-5470. You can talk to our pharmacists about sodium/electrolyte products that we keep in stock to help prevent dehydration. Our compounding pharmacy in Benton provides over-the-counter, prescription and compound medications for a wide range of illnesses and injuries.