What is a heat stroke?

Heat stroke, also known as sun stroke, is a type of severe heat illness that results in a body temperature greater than 40.0 °C (104.0 °F) and confusion with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures.

 

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. It can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke mainly affects people over age 50, it also takes a toll on healthy young athletes.

 

When does heat stroke occur?

Heat stroke occurs because of high external temperatures or physical exertion. In combination with dehydration, it leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system.

Risk factors include heat waves, high humidity, certain drugs such as diuretics or alcohol, heart disease, and skin disorders. Cases not associated with physical exertion typically occur in those at the extremes of age or with long term health problems.

 

Symptoms of heat stroke

 

  • Hyperthermia greater than 40.6ºC
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Seizure, especially in young children
  • Unconsciousness
  • Organ failure
  • Coma

 

Am I having a heat stroke?

Before a heat stroke occurs, people show signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, mental confusion, headaches, and weakness. If you think you are having any of these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.