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Heat stroke: Prevention, treatment vs body overheating |

Health And Family

Heat stroke: Prevention, treatment vs body overheating

Kristofer Purnell -
Heat stroke: Prevention, treatment vs body overheating
A man pouring himself water
Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines — State weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced last March 22 the official termination of "Amihan" or the northeast monsoon season, marking the beginning of the warm and dry season in the country.

PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando said that the declaration of the "Philippine Summer" was based on the analysis of weather forecast patterns.

Servando added that the effects of El Niño, a climate pattern associated with extreme heat and drought, is also expected to continue, bringing higher temperatures and drier condition in April until May.

As a result, warmer temperatures are expected and PAGASA advised everyone to take precautionary measures to minimize heat stress and optimize the daily use of water for personal and domestic consumption.

Apart from heat stress, another health concern to be wary of because of high temperatures is heat stroke, which may become more common in the coming days if precautions aren't taken.

Basic information

The Mayo Clinic and the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define heat stroke as the result of the body overheating because of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures.

Because the body loses control, body temperature can reach up to 40°C or higher in at least 10 minutes.

Related: PAGASA declares start of warm and dry season

If untreated, heat stroke can damage the brain, muscles, the heart, and kidneys. Further delayed treatment increases the risk of death.

Causes, risks

Basic causes of heat stroke are prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures.

Such conditions can also be amplified by dehydration, wearing too much clothing that prevents sweat from evaporating, and drinking alcohol.

The following increases the risks of suffering a heat stroke:

  • age (younger individuals don't have fully developed nervous systems, older people have deteriorating ones)
  • sudden exposure to hot weather
  • lack of air conditioning
  • certain medications (ex. antidepressants or antipsychotics, diuretics, beta blockers, vasoconstrictors) and stimulants
  • certain health conditions (ex. chronic illnesses, obesity, previous heat stroke experience/s)

Symptoms, immediate treatment

The agencies mentioned and the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) listed the symptoms of a heat stroke, primary among them a high body temperature and hot or dry red skin:

  • altered state or behavior like being confused or slurred speech; more extreme cases would be seizures, delirium, and dropping into a coma
  • nausea and headache
  • rapid and shallow breathing
  • faster heart rate
  • muscle cramps
  • becoming very thirsty

Related: PAGASA: Heat index in 8 areas to reach danger levels

If a person is assumed to be experiencing heat stroke, immediately call for emergency services, and while waiting keep them indoors or in a shaded area, remove excess clothing, and cool them down via cold water for consuming or dousing, ice packs, or wet towels on the head, neck, armpits, and groin area.


The Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and the NHS all agree that heat stroke is predictable, preventable, and can be prepared for especially as the hotter months are rolling in.

Some preventive measures people will be aware of are applying sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor of at least 15 every two hours (more often if one is swimming or sweating) and to drink plenty of fluids.

It is more ideal to wear loose or lightweight clothing as tight and excess outfits won't let the body cool as fast, and do not leave anyone — especially children — in a parked car when the temperatures are warm.

The Mayo Clinic advised to limit time doing activities until one is conditioned to a hotter environment. In the meantime, avoid strenuous activity in such temperatures or simply do activities during cooler parts of the day.

The NHS also said that when indoors, close curtains and windows if it's hotter outside and to turn off electrical equipment and lights that could make the room hotter. — with reports from Rosette Adel

RELATED: What is heat stroke? Prevention, treatment

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