Do you have Sunburn or Heatstroke? How do you tell the difference?
Heatstroke or a Sunburn? Either one can be dangerous and make you feel really sick.
So let’s take a quick minute, think about how a heatstroke or sunburn affects you. Prevention is always better than treatment and healing up!
According to the Cleveland Clinic located at 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio:
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that happens when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). It’s usually the result of overexertion in hot, humid conditions.
Symptoms can include confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness. Untreated, heatstroke can lead to organ failure, a coma, or death.
What Is Sunburn?
How Mayo Clinic explains sunburn:
Sunburn is red, painful skin that feels hot to the touch.
It usually appears within a few hours after too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunshine or artificial sources, such as sunlamps.
With sunburns, your home remedies can usually provide relief. Sunburn may take a few days to fade.
Strong, repeated UV light exposure that brings you to the sunburn stage also increases the risk of other skin damage. Dark spots, mottled skin spots, and dry or wrinkled skin usually have their start with sunburn.
The most dangerous risk at this point of exposure to the sun and sunburn is raising the risk of skin cancers such as melanoma.
Both of these conditions, sunburn or heatstroke are dangerous for your health. As these conditions are both preventable, we should make an effort to protect ourselves from either one.
How Do You Know You Are About To Go Into A Heatstroke?
However, heatstroke normally is often a bit more difficult to diagnose unless you have medical training. So, to make sure you can know how to help yourself or your family should a heatstroke occur, this short article will help you identify a heat stroke.
A sunburn announces itself with burning red skin and uncomfortable symptoms.
Heatstrokes can often be more sneaky, a bit less noticeable. With a heatstroke, you are usually very active in hot weather and often including high humidity.
You often don’t realize that you are in trouble until you almost faint.
I have had way too many sunburns and thought I may have had a heatstroke one time. Maybe it was heat exhaustion. This article will be more about heatstroke. Maybe you have had some experiences with these questions.
Exertional Heat Stroke?
Heatstrokes are usually referred to as exertional heatstroke or non-exertional heatstroke. Here are brief explanations to help you become aware of the differences. Should you ever have to consult a physician for this, you will be more familiar with the terminology.
- The Exertional heatstroke: An exertonal heatstroke usually happens when there is a lot of physical overexertion in hot and humid contitions. It can take several hours to develop. Yes even working in your garden.
- A Non-exertional heatstroke: This is the classic heatstroke. The classic can occur due to your age or underlying health conditions. The classis heatstroke can take several days for it to develop. A condition that can develops during a heat wave, and a person does not have airconditioning to cool down in.
- Remember as well the person who is really young or really old may be in trouble from the heat quicker than a healthier more mature person. So, be aware when out in the heat and humidity. Reguardless of your physical conditions or lack there of, heat and humitidy exposure can prove dangerous.
What Is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is what happens when your body overheats and can’t cool itself down.
Heat Exhaustion usually results when someone is being physically active for longer periods of time in hot weather.
Symptoms can include dizziness, confusion, and nausea.
These symptoms will usually improve when you rest in a cool place, and drink a good amount of cool water. Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.
(Hypothermia is often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. Your body is not able to warm itself. Heat Exhaustion is the opposite. Your body is heating faster than you can cool down. Both are extreme opposites from each other.)
When you have heat exhaustion, you can develop into heatstroke if you do make a move to get in the shade, rest, and drink water to allow your body to catch up on the cooling down process. Do not ignore it and allow it to go untreated.
Heat exhaustion isn’t as dangerous as heatstroke. Normally, doesn’t cause neurological problems and usually isn’t life-threatening. However, again age and overall health conditions will play a role in how serious this can be.
Caution is advised. Pay attention to your kids during a hot day. Make sure they get a break very often in the shade and drink more water than you feel really thirsty for.
Will I Get A Heatstroke Doing Yard Work?
Yes, you could develop a heatstroke working in the yard.
Anyone can get heatstroke. However, infants, young kids, and senior citizens are at especially high risk.
These three groups are venerable because their bodies may not be able to self-regulate temperature effectively.
Athletes, military personnel, and people whose occupations require actual physical labor and exertion can have a heatstroke. In hot environments, these kinds of exposure make people very susceptible to heatstroke.
Other Factors To Be Aware Of
There are some other factors that increase your risk of heatstroke.
- Alcohol consumption, and not just during the time you are out in the heat and sun. If you drink a lot of alchol on a regular basis, you may react to the heat faster than someone who drinks very little alchol.
- Are you are a male?
- Do you usually drink enough water during the day? If not, you and may be somewhat dehydrated before being exposed to the heat and humidity.
- Medications, even over-the-counter kinds, that affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature. Such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, or heart and blood pressure medications. Sinus and arthritis medications can also fall in this catagory.
More Conditions That Matter
- Do you have certain diseases or conditions that affect your ability to sweat? Conditions like cystic fibrosis?
- What about certain medical conditions? This list could include a sleep disorder or problems with your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, your thyroid or blood vessels.
- Do you wear heavy or tight clothing, like protective gear?
- Are you having a high fever?
- Is your weight at a healthy number? Or you classified as obeise?
- Have you had a past history of heatstroke?
- What about having poor physical conditioning? Or just nor acclimated and or not accustomed to hot conditions?
Does Heatstroke Occur Often?
Sense heatstroke can be dangerous, let’s look at this condition a little more.
How often do heat strokes happen? Or do we just think we are experiencing a heatstroke and maybe it is heat exhaustion?
Studies suggest that heatstroke does occur in about 20 out of 100,000 people each year in the U.S.
It’s most common in the more urban areas during periods of very hot weather. With all the conditions that make people susceptible to this problem from the heat exhaustion from above, you can see that where there are more people, there will be more problems.
Heatstroke causes between 240 and 833 deaths in the U.S. annually. The fact that the number varies so is the result of weather conditions. When we have more extreme heat and weather conditions, that causes some to react who might not.
This is where awareness and common sense will serve you well. If your kids are playing in a sport that has them out running and being active in the sun and heat, they can be affected.
Monitor their actions. Encourage water drinking and breaks. They need to learn that it is important to allow their bodies to catch up on the cooling process.
Do you have a DYI project planned for out in the elements? Be aware in case someone gets overheated.
Actual Causes Of Heatstroke?
Heatstroke occurs when your body can’t cool itself down properly.
Your hypothalamus ( located in your brain) controls many of your body functions. This controlling gland sets your core body temperature.
Your core temperature is typically around the 98.6* we are all so familiar with.
However, when your body is taking in heat, and making heat through activity at the same time? Guess what can happen? Your body temperature will exceed your core setting.
With all the many things that can cause your body to be unable to properly cool itself? You can easily find yourself in trouble.
If you are exercising or working in an area that does not have good ventilation and you get overheated, you can also develop heatstroke. You don’t have to be outside.
Whatever activity makes your body start heating up can be dangerous if you are unable to cool yourself.
Your skin is important as this is how you help cool yourself. Through sweating your body is attempting to cool itself. If there is too much humidity to allow your sweat to dry, you will be in trouble quicker.
When your body remains unable to cool itself, heatstroke can occur, quickly. Get to some shady area, sit down and drink cool water. Make sure someone knows that you are feeling “funny” or “off” or whatever explains how you feel.
Alert! Symptoms Of Heatstroke?
Don’t ignore this situation. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know exhibits any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
- Dry skin that doesn’t sweat? Known asAnhidrosis More common in non-exertional heatstroke).
- Coordination and movement problems? Ataxia .
- Trouble walking and standing upright? Balance problems.
- Confusion or disorientation unable to talk cohorerently? Delirium
- Lack of ability to stand, and feel head is swiming? Dizziness.
- Excessive sweating that continues after you’ve stopped exercising (this is more common in exertional heatstroke).
- Hot, flushed skin or very pale skin. Neither are normal.
- Low or high blood pressure.
- Lung crackles (bubbling or gurgling sound in the lungs).
- Having an upset stomach and feeling queasy, with Nausea and vomiting.
- Little or low uring output.
- Rapid breathing or fast heart rate.
- A loss of consciousness or fainting is know as Syncope
Awareness of these different conditions will help you make a better assessment of yourself and anyone else’s condition. These conditions are dangerous and you will need medical help.
Complications Of Heatstroke?
When someone is suffering heatstroke, they can develop shock or slip into a coma.
High body temperature can lead to:
- Serious respiratory problems. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). You will need help with this condition.
- There can be brain swelling.
- Your also subject to Kidney failure.
- Your liver is also under destress. Liver failure.
- Metabolic dysfunction is another condition that can develop with sunstroke.
- Itis also possible to have some Nerve damage.
- Reduced blood flow to the heart and other circulatory problems can intensify, putting your bodies functions and organs in jeperady.
When you have any questions, call your physician. Make sure to be safe rather than sorry.
For instance, for this condition, we have heard about people who came in from working in the garden sat in their chairs, and died. This happens, many times it is a sunstroke or heat exhaustion. And usually, it is older people, but awareness might have caused them to call for help.
How Is Heatstroke Diagnosed?
Your healthcare providers generally are able to diagnose heatstroke in the emergency department.
They will review your symptoms, perform a physical exam and take your temperature.
There may also be orders for blood tests or urinalysis.
Additionally, tests might include a chest X-ray or electrocardiogram (EKG) to monitor the electrical activity in your heart. The results can give you a true picture of any irregularity and get immediate attention if needed.
How Do Doctors Treat Heatstroke?
Heatstroke does require immediate medical treatment.
If you’re waiting for an ambulance to arrive, here are some suggestions to try to cool the person as much as possible by:
Start first aid by having them lay down in a cool, shady, well-ventilated environment.
- Encouraging the person to drink slightly salted fluids, like sports drinks or salted water to help get that person hyderaded.
- You can apply ice packs to the neck, groin and armpits,and helping cool body tempreatures.
- Immersing them in cool water, but not cold water if possible.
- Misting them with water and blowing air across their bodies (evaporative cooling)is another good gentle cooling trick.
- Monitoring their breathing carefully and removing any airway blockages by removing any thing fitting tightly in the throat, chest area.
- Refrain for giving any medications, including aspirin and acetaminophen.
- Help the person remove any clothing that is tight or heavy.
These actions can help relieve the stress the person is under.
Hospital Treatments You Might Recieve
When you arrive at the hospital, if you have heatstroke, you may receive some or all of these treatments:
- A bag of cooled intravenous fluids through a vein in your arm is a very standard start to treating heatstroke. Dehyderation is a very important symptom that is present most of the time and the fluids are needed.
- Often a cooling blanket is added, as this can help cool your body down in a gentle and faster way.
- An ice bath is helpful when any form of elevated body temperature is being treated. Even fevers from infection may recieve this treatment..
- Of course there are medications to prevent seizures. This can be something your doctor determines you need.
- Supplemental oxygen is another treatment that is fairly standard treatment for sunstroke.
Sometimes cold-water lavage is necessary. This is a treatment that uses catheters (thin, flexible tubes). The catheters go into your throat or your rectum and allow cold water to fill body cavities with cold water. This helps lower the body temperature overall.
Healthcare providers usually stop these cooling treatments once the body reaches about 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius).
The length of time you stay in the hospital depends on the severity of your heatstroke and how well your organs are functioning. It is important to make sure your organs are able to do what they are supposed to be doing.
How To Prevent Heatstroke?
Most of the time, you can prevent heatstroke by following a few common-sense practices. Often you didn’t even know some of the actions were dangerous. Awareness is a great help for knowing what to do in certain situations.
- You should consider delaying strenous physical activity in hot, humid conditions. There will be a hetter time to do this activity. Now that you know the danger, maybe shift working times to earlier or later.
- It really is important to drink liquids like sports drinks, lightly salted water or broth.
- It is important to gradually allow your body acclimate to warmer temperatures over several weeks. Help yourself by starting with some walks in a new climate. So important when you’ll have to be in hot conditions for work or sports.
- Being aware of where you children or pets are. Leaving your children (or pets) in closed, hot spaces such as cars, is never a good practice.
- The importance of staying in air-conditioned or well-ventilated areas during heat waves is often forgotten. If you find yourself in a heatwave adjust your kids play outside time to early in the morning, before 10 AM or after 4 PM. Even during those hours watch closely and keep them drinking lots of cool water. Check on your older family and friends.
- Another common sense practice is to wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing if you’ll be out in the heat. Your leggings or tight jeans may just make you warmer. Keep the kids in clothing that is loose fitting for their comfort.
Allowing your little ones to be outside is important, but not to the point that their safety is in question. Remember to protect their skin from the sun. That means keeping the lightweight clothing between them and the sun. Protect yourself as well.
Life After Heatstroke
There may be some adjustments to your lifestyle after you have a heatstroke. The important events that will make a difference are:
Did your body temperature spike above what your doctor considered suitable for you?
How long your temperature was too high before you received treatment to bring it down?
Then your overall health conditions. Remember all the health issues mentioned earlier in this article.
Between 10 and 65% of people with non-exertional heatstroke die from having this happen.
There is a more positive outlook for exertional heatstroke, with its mortality rate of 3 to 5%.
Some people experience permanent organ damage or neurological dysfunction.
During your recovery after heatstroke, and for several weeks afterward, you can expect changes in your body temperature for several weeks.
It is important to avoid physical activity for at least a week.
You will also need periodic tests to monitor your kidney and liver function. Be aware that even temporary complications of heatstroke can take several months to go away. This is a serious condition.
After you’ve had heatstroke once, you’re more likely to experience this heat illness again. Staying aware when you are in any situation that might cause your body temperature to rise, can be dangerous. Take preventive measures any time you plan to be in hot conditions.
Make sure there is plenty of cool water available. Take breaks in the shade where the air is moving so you can cool down. Be especially aware with your kids and outside play and sports.
When Should I Call For Help?
After you’ve had heatstroke and are recovering, you should contact your doctor right away if you experience anything abnormal conditions like:
- Having cognitive dysfunction (problems thinking or remembering).
- You experience difficulty breathing.
- There is some kidney problem. Like reduced urine output, feet and legs swelling. You may also experience some liver malfunctions, and your physican needs to make the call.
Sami’s Take On Heatstroke Or Sunburn
I think that just as we are unaware of the danger from too much sun, we are often unaware of the heat and how it can affect you and your family.
We are just not protected by the Ozone layer, as we once were. Even then, we were not as protected as we thought. With so little Ozone to help filter out the sun’s rays, we do have to be more proactive.
Another difference is that we live under air conditioning. Once a luxury, it is now a necessity. To live safely without our air conditioning we would need to adjust slowly.
To put ourselves out in the heat and start working in the garden, is ridiculous and should be avoided in the hotter times of the day. Start slowly and stay aware of your body heat condition.
Learning to take care of yourself is important. Teaching your kids to take care of themselves is also important. Helping senior members of your family to take caution is important. The heat is dangerous. Don’t get out in the midday sun.
Choose your outside times wisely. Monitor loved ones’ time in the sun. Living with long-term issues from heatstroke will require some adjustments in lifestyle.
The main adjustment for me? Not being able to withstand the heat anymore. I get dizzy and disoriented. As well as weak feeling. Sitting down and letting myself cool down seems to work for me.
However, returning to the heated situation will repeat the whole list of symptoms quickly.
Age is a part of my increased sensitivity to the heat and sun. So I am more careful of situations that could prove dangerous for me. Have you made any adjustments for yourself?