Temperatures are soaring everywhere in India, with the heat slowly becoming unbearable for people. In a piece of shocking news, 11 people died due to heatstroke in Navi Mumbai at the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ Award event which took place on April 16. The eventful award turned into a tragedy when several people died and a lot of people were left dehydrated due to the heat. As per reports, 50 people were hospitalized and many people complained of dehydration, dizziness, nausea, and chest pain after standing in the open ground in Kharghar.
Heat stroke, which was the reason for the demise of nearly a dozen people in Mumbai, is a serious condition that makes your body overheat to the point of death. Health Shots reached out to Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Consultant-Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, Haryana, to know all about heat stroke and what one can do to prevent the risk.
What is a heat stroke?
For the unversed, heat stroke or sunstroke is a medical emergency that occurs when your body is unable to cool down and overheats. It requires immediate attention, and a little delay can sometimes lead to fatal consequences. Dr Aggarwal explains, “The most serious heat-related sickness, heat stroke, is characterized by a body temperature of more than 40 °C (104 °F) along with neurological dysfunction.”
There are two types of heat stroke that you need to know about:
- Exertional heat stroke (EHS): Young people who participate in prolonged, arduous physical activity in a warm setting are more likely to experience EHS.
- Classic non-exertional heat stroke (NEHS): It most frequently strikes young children, elderly people who are inactive, and those who have chronic illnesses. Classic NEHS is more prevalent in regions that do not frequently endure extended hot weather and occurs during environmental heat waves.
Both types of the problem have been linked to high morbidity and death, particularly when cooling therapy is postponed and the patient is not given prompt treatment.
Know the symptoms of heat stroke
A heat stroke usually happens when the temperature of the body rises above 41°C. However, it is typical for the body temperature to fall below 41 °C in the presence of sweating, evaporative process, and the cooling measures that take place. Dr Aggarwal lists down the symptoms
- Symptoms of the central nervous system may range from irritability to coma.
- Examination of the eyes may reveal nystagmus (a condition in which your eyes make continuous and uncontrolled movements) and oculogyric episodes (spasmodic movements of the eyeballs into a fixed position) due to cerebellar injury. The pupils may be fixed, dilated, pinpoint, or normal.
- Cardiac signs may include a hyper dynamic state, with tachycardia, low systemic vascular resistance, and a high cardiac index.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms may develop complications such as intestinal infarction and gastrointestinal haemorrhage.
- It frequently leads to renal-acute kidney injury, which can be brought on by hypovolemia, reduced cardiac output, and myoglobinuria (from rhabdomyolysis).
How can you treat or prevent it?
It can be avoided, and the single most effective method of preventing it is through knowledge, says the expert. You can prevent it by eating a healthy diet, reducing the use of alcohol and drugs, abstaining from using substances that impair heat dissipation, and engaging in physical activity.
As for treatment, Dr Aggarwal says that ice water immersion is a more effective way to quickly drop core body temperature below the dangerous levels frequently observed in heat stroke patients.