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Can you recognize symptoms of heat stroke?

Summer is here and it’s hot, hot, HOT! Our cold Canadian winter is finally gone and it’s left us wanting as much sun and heat as we can get! We’re not complaining, but let’s be sun smart and recognize the signs and symptoms of when we’re getting too much.

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is when your body overheats and your internal temperature rises to 40 C (104 F) or higher, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This is the most serious form of heat injury. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heat stroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

Recognize the signs and symptoms:

  • High body temperature. A core body temperature of 40 C (104 F) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, get out of the sun, move into a cool area and cool your body (source). Here are methods to cool down quickly:

  1. The crown (vertex) of your head and base of your neck (nape) receives the most heat. Applying cold towel to these two areas will help speed up your body’s ability to cool down.
  2. Rehydration & urination is key! Urination is another way your body removes heat from your system. Increase water intake to induce urination.
  3. You can also loosen any tight clothing, giving your pores space to breathe via evaporative cooling.
  4. Blood letting. If you have access to finger stick device to prick your finger, such as a lancet, sterilize the following sites using 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and release 30 – 40 droplets of blood: DU20, DU14, Ear apex, PC9 (see below images)
  5. Visit your nearest hospital or TCM clinic

So how do you beat the heat?

Protect your skin, use sunscreen and wear a hat!

The application of broad-spectrum sunscreen will help protect your skin from harmful UV rays and reduce the likelihood of sunburns, premature aging, and risk of skin cancer. Health Canada recommends sunscreen with a SPF of 30 and higher and it should be re-applied every 2 hours. Remember: “Sunscreens are not meant to increase the amount of time you can spend in the sun without burning. They are meant to provide protection from UV rays while you are outside” (source).

Atomy Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

  • SPF 50+ PA+++
  • UVA/UVB Protection
  • No white turbidity
  • No sticky residue
  • Ideal for sensitive skin
  • Comes in White Tone or Beige Tone

*Daily use of SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by 50%. Don’t treat it — prevent it!

Stay hydrated!

Ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day, especially if you are outdoors and in the sun. Drink before you “feel thirsty”. When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Proactively drinking will keep your body at a safe temperature.

If you ever suspect that anyone around you is experiencing symptoms of heat stroke, it is important to see a doctor immediately. If you have had a stroke and are looking for rehabilitative treatments to reverse the effects of stroke, acupuncture is an effective solution for you. The sooner you seek help, the better the prognosis you will have!

Deborah Kim, CPT, BA

Certified Personal Trainer with a Specialized Honours in Kinesiology

Deborah Kim (CSEP-CPT) is a certified Personal Trainer who has worked in the fitness industry for over 10 years. She specializes in multiple areas of training including lower back, shoulder, and knee injuries, cancer, diabetes, heart health, seniors fitness & more. She offers 45 min and 1 hour 1-on-1 personal training.

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