What is hyperthermia and how to avoid it?


hyperthermiaThis year’s summer will be harsher and the next couple of months temperatures will be above normal, as per the Indian Meteorological Department. Sudden change in temperature can affect the body. Certain precautionary measures are important to follow to cope up with extreme heat of summer.

Hyperthermia is nothing but your body is overheated. This can happen in extreme heat, high humidity or after vigorous physical activity in very hot weather.

Hyperthermia is often called as heat cramp in milder form, heat exhaustion in moderate and heat stroke in the most severe form.

Our body’s heat combined with environmental heat is called core temperature of the body. Our body needs to regulate its own temperature in hot or cold weather to maintain a core temperature approximately 98.6 F (37 C).

Our body maintains the core temperature in hot weather mainly by sweating. The evaporation of the sweat regulates body temperature. However, when you do vigorous exercise in hot, humid weather, your body is less able to cool itself efficiently. As a result, you may develop heat cramps, the mildest form of hyperthermia. Signs and symptoms of heat cramps usually include sweating, fatigue, excessive thirst and muscle cramps. Prompt treatment prevents heat cramps from progressing to heat exhaustion.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

– Headache

– Cool, moist skin

– Profuse sweating

– Fainting or Dizziness

Fatigue

– Rapid pulse

– Muscle cramps

– Nausea

– Dark Urine

– Low blood pressure

Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition when your body temperature reaches 104 F  (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs.

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Sign and symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, lack of coordination, vomiting, convulsions or unconsciousness.

If you notice signs of heat-related illness, lower your body temperature and prevent yourself from heatstroke. The following steps may lower the body temperature:

– Get to a shady or air-conditioned place.

– Cool your body temperature with damp sheets and a fan.

– Take a cool shower or bath.

– Rehydrate yourself by drinking plenty of fluids.

Related Article: Summers Are Hot, Tanning A Lot, Fear Do Not!

How to avoid Hyperthermia?

At the onset of summer or hot weather you can prevent hyperthermia with following simple measures:

1) Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing

– Wearing excess clothes or tight fitting clothes won’t allow your body to cool properly. Wearing cotton clothes will stay damp with sweat and help your body to cool down faster.

– Cover your head with a hat or scarf to avoid direct exposure to the sun.

2) Drink double of fluids

– Stay hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.

– Drink adequate water, eight to ten glasses in a day or more if you can.

– Drink vegetable juices, fruit juices, lemon juice with salt and sugar, mango panna, buttermilk, coconut water etc to maintain an adequate level of fluids in your body.

– Monitoring the color of your urine. Darker urine is a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink enough fluids to maintain very light-colored urine. Avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol, because both substances can make you lose more fluids.

– Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salad and fruits.

3) Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day

– Try to schedule exercise or physical work for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. If you can’t avoid physical activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot.

4) Let your body get acclimated to change of weather

– People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. Limit your time spent working or exercising in heat until you are conditioned to it.

5) Never leave anyone in a car parked in direct exposure to the sun or with closed windows on a very hot day.

6) Stay cool

– Stay cool and keep air circulating around you. Draw your curtains and use a fan or air conditioning if possible.

– Sprinkle water over your skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.

– Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house, as these can cool the air.

– Carry an umbrella and a water bottle with you while going out.

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I hope this blog will help you to acclimate and to prevent Hypothermia in coming summer. Have a healthy summer.  

– Written by Dr. Aparna, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah

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