With the rising temperatures and humidity levels in Oman, heat exhaustion is something which most people experience while doing routine tasks each day. However, a heatstroke is a more serious condition caused due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures which may raise the body temperature more than the normal body temperature – 37º C. And, if your body temperature rises above 40º C it can lead to serious consequences and so immediate medical attention is necessary.
Heatstroke can occur in two forms – As a consequence of exposure to a hot environment for prolonged periods (non-exertional heatstroke) and one caused due to strenuous activity in a hot environment (Exertional heatstroke). While the former is a classic condition experienced by adults as well as those suffering from chronic illnesses, the latter is experienced by those exercising or doing hard work in a hot weather, especially if one is not used to high temperatures.
During heatwave conditions, infants and young children are also at risk because they need someone to watch out for them to detect abnormal signs and symptoms which might point towards heat stroke. Hence, leaving children alone in hot cars, while adults do shopping, is a very risky proposition, even if the windows are left open.
The increased risk for heatstroke, however, is not limited to young children and old people. Young adults exposed to heat for long periods of time, as in those waiting in long queues in the hot sun or at public transport junctions or unshaded areas, without adequate skin protection, can also develop heat stroke. Those taking up outdoor exercises such as jogging, running, cycling, etc when the heat is on are also exposed to the risk of suffering from heatstroke.
In particular, people with chronic diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease, are at higher risk for heatstroke
Key signs and symptoms
High body temperature of 40º C (104º F) or higher.
Altered mental state or behaviour (Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, and seizures).
Alteration in sweating – your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch.
Nausea and vomiting – you may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
Flushed skin – your skin may turn red
Rapid or shallow breathing
Racing heart rate – heat stress places a tremendous burden on the heart.
Headache – throbbing headache for some.
Heatstroke is, however, preventable if you take the right precautions during hot weather:
Always wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess or tight outfits prevents the body from cooling down.
Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously every two hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating.
Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise by over 10 degrees in 10 minutes.
Low fluid levels in your body are conducive to heatstroke symptoms. If you are not drinking enough water or juices to replenish fluids lost through sweating, you tend to expose yourself to the risk. Your body needs to be hydrated all the time to be able to respond to the heat. Consider the following home remedies to stay hydrated:
This is one of the best remedies for treating a heat stroke. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest that this should be the first thing that you must reach out for. Applying onion juice behind the ears and on your chest can help bring down your body temperature. You can roast some raw onions with cumin and honey and have it. Raw onions in salads also cool your system.
Tamarind is rich in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Soak some tamarind in boiling water. Strain it and drink it with 1tsp of sugar. This decoction lowers your body temperature. .
Raw mango drink
A refreshing drink made with raw mangoes and spices helps cool your body. You may drink raw mango juice two to three times in a day for a better effect. Raw mango pulp mixed with a little cumin, fennel, pepper and rock salt provides your body with energy and electrolytes to fight heatstroke.
Plums are a great source of antioxidants and are known to be very hydrating. These antioxidants lend anti-inflammatory properties that help in soothing internal inflammation that may be caused due to a heat stroke. Soak some plums in water till they are soft. Eat them as a fruit or prepare a refreshing juice to calm the body.
Add few drops of apple cider vinegar in your fruit juice or mix it with plain cool water and honey. This helps in replenishing the minerals and electrolytes that are lost in hot climates.
The most refreshing drink in summer, buttermilk is a good source of probiotics and helps in replenishing your body with essential vitamins and minerals that may be lost due to excessive sweating. Similarly, coconut water rehydrates your body by naturally balancing the electrolytes in your body.
Mint and coriander
Extracting the juice of coriander or mint leaves and drinking it with a pinch of sugar is an easy home remedy to bring down the body heat. According to Ayurveda, these herbs have a cooling effect on the body. Coriander juice can also be applied for soothing hot itchy skin.