Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Food and Health: Prevention and Treatment of Heat Stroke/Sun Stroke

Prevention and Treatment of Heat Stroke/Sun Stroke

     Wheww! It's really hot! The El Niño phenomenon is causing so much heat this summer time here in the Philippines and drying up our water reservoirs. It's all due to climate change and global warming which I will discuss more fully in my other blog 'Awesome Pinoys: Disciples of Philippine Progress' (http://awesomepinoys.blogspot.com/). What is more appropriate to discuss here is the effects of these to human health. According to Dr. Tyrone Reyes, in his article in The Philippine Star, "Some Hot Health Reminders on Global Warming", climate change can affect human health in many ways; in the 1980s and '90s, heat stroke killed about 200 Americans a year but the average toll is now close to 700 a year. 

     What is Heat Stroke? Sun Stroke? Heat stroke is a condition which occurs when the body's thermostat cannot keep your body cool---the best simple definition by PDR Health web page (http://www.pdrhealth.com/). We normally dissipate heat through our skin pores and by sweating. However, extremely hot and humid temperatures, certain physical disorders such as skin disease, medications such as diuretics, or over exertion while under the sun can cause these bodily functions to fail and cause symptoms of heat stroke. Sun stroke is a type of heat stroke wherein the source of the heat is the sun. Many Western women love to sun bathe to get a tan and should become aware that prolonged exposure to the sun contribute to sun stroke. 

     So what are the symptoms and how can we treat them? The symptoms are, of course, high body temperature like fever, red hot or flushed skin, rapid pulse, difficulty in breathing, confusion or agitation or disorientation, seizure or coma or fainting. The very first thing which anyone can do is to cool down the patient--remove him from the heat source and bring him to a shady area, grab a hose and spray water to the entire body or get tepid water and bathe him all over, fan him to promote sweating, place ice packs under his armpits and in his groin. The next step is to bring him to the doctor  or to a clinic or hospital which will monitor his body temperature. Do not take this lightly; heat stroke or sun stroke is a medical emergency. 

     Of course, prevention is better than treatment. In these summer months, your body will always give you warning signals of what it lacks like thirst, so don't wait to be so dehydrated before you start drinking fluids. Take lots of fluids during summertime and avoid alcohol and caffeine if you have to do activities in hot weather or when you want to sun bathe. When you're in the beach, munch on juicy fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe. Avoid staying in closed spaces with no air circulation or air-conditioning systems during these months.

   One more thing, infants and elderly are also more prone to heat stroke and sometimes, they cannot tell you if they are feeling hot. So we need to be more sensitive to our babies and to our elderly loved ones.


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