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HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE

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Causes and Symptoms: These are endemic to hot climates like those of India where the summers are long and severe. Those living or moving about in the open without proper clothing are more prone to them than other. Profuse sweating due to atmospheric heat (in some towns in India the mercury touches 116o F. in shade) leads to a loss of vital fluids and salts in the body with the result that the affected person suddenly feels faint and may even fall in a swoon.

Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke which is characterised by high fever, absence of perspiration, thirst, a rapid pulse, confusion and sometimes, loss of consciousness.

The fever of heat stroke comes on suddenly; the temperature rises upto 106o F. and sometimes upto 108o F. At that moment, the anal temperature may be above 110o F. a danger sign if immediate steps are not taken.



Remedies: If the temperature goes beyond 104o F., cold compresses to the forehead is the obvious answer. If the fever shows signs of increasing in spite of the cold compresses, the clothes of the patient taken off and he wrapped in a sheet dipped in ice-cold water. The sheet should be changed after every 15 minutes till the temperature comes down to 103o F.

The patient should be given plenty of liquids; during the mango season, a couple of Raw Mangoes should be boiled and expressed; the resultant soup should be given with a little salt to the patient.

Preventive Steps: Prevention is always better than cure and it applies more to heat stroke that to any other malady. One must cover one's head and the nape of the neck during summer while going out in the sun. Plenty of water should be drunk even if a person does not feel thirsty. Salt intake should be increased because body salts are constantly being depleted due to profuse sweating in summer. Juice of Lemon added to a glass of cold water with a pinch of Salt makes an excellent drink to ward off heat stroke.

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