Heatstroke, often confused with heat exhaustion or heat syncope (fainting), is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention. If you or someone you know is experiencing heatstroke, our doctors and medical providers at Eastside Urgent Care can provide swift and effective treatment to ensure that you make a complete recovery without any long-term complications.
What is sunstroke (heat stroke)?
Heatstroke, also known as sunstroke, is a medical condition that occurs when your body overheats due to extended exposure to high temperatures, known as non-exertional or classic heatstroke, or while physically exerting yourself in hot weather, known as exertional heat stroke. Sunstroke is a serious medical condition that requires emergency treatment at an urgent care clinic or emergency room. When a person experiences sunstroke, their body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
The symptoms of heatstroke include the following:
- Altered behavior or mental state, with agitation, confusion, delirium, disorientation, or irritability
- Coma or unconsciousness
- Flushed or red skin
- Heatstroke brought on by hot weather will cause hot and dry skin to the touch, while heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise will cause slightly moist skin to the touch
- High body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or higher
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Rapid heart rate, which can be either strong or weak
- Throbbing headache
Classic heat stroke most often occurs in older adults or individuals with a chronic illness, while exertional heatstroke can happen to anyone who exercises or participates in intense physical activity in hot weather. Heatstroke is more likely to occur if an individual is dehydrated, drinking alcohol, or wearing excess clothing.
When should you see a doctor for heat stroke?
If heat stroke is left untreated, it can cause damage to your brain, heart, kidneys, or muscles. Moreover, the potential damage to your organs and soft tissues worsens the longer that heatstroke is left untreated. With that in mind, you should seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing heatstroke.
Heatstroke often develops from milder heat-related conditions, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat fainting, but it can also strike without warning.
How do you treat sunstroke?
The focal point of sunstroke treatment is to cool down your body temperature to normal levels to prevent or minimize damage to your brain and vital organs. With that in mind, your doctor or medical provider may treat sunstroke in the following ways:
- Apply ice packs to warm areas of your body, such as your armpits, back, neck, and groin, and wrap you in a cooling blanket to lower your body temperature
- Bath with cold or ice water
- Evaporation cooling techniques
- Provide medications, such as a muscle relaxant, to help with any shivering
How long does sunstroke symptoms last?
After experiencing and recovering from sunstroke, you will most likely be more sensitive to high temperatures for the next week or so. As such, it is a good idea to avoid hot weather and strenuous activity or exercise during that time or until your doctor lets you know that you can safely return to your regular activities and exercise routine.
For more information about heatstroke, we welcome you to call us or visit our website at Eastside Urgent Care! If you are dealing with heat stroke, we urge you to visit our urgent care clinic for a walk-in appointment or an emergency room without delay. You can find our urgent care clinic at 872 Ohio Pike in Cincinnati, Ohio. We serve patients from Cincinnati OH, Covedale OH, Delhi OH, St Bernard OH, Bridgetown North OH, and Elmwood Place OH.