By Pushpa Bhatia
Heat stroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and body temperature continues to rise to 104 degree F (40 degree C) or higher. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Even with medical treatment, it can be life-threatening or result in serious long-term complications.
Symptoms include high-body temperature, lack of sweating, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin even in the armpits, rapid breathing, headache, convulsion (seizure) severe restlessness or anxiety, unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds and muscle cramps.
The risk of heat stroke can be reduced by observing precautions to avoid overheating and dehydration. Cotton, light, loose-fitting clothes will allow perspiration to evaporate and cool the body. Wide-brimmed hats in light colours help prevent the sun from warming the head and neck. Vents on a hat will help cool the head as well as sweatbands wetted with cold water.
Strenuous exercise should be avoided during daylight hours in hot weather.
In hot weather, people need to drink plenty of cold liquids to replace fluids lost from sweating. Thirst is not a reliable sign that a person needs fluids. A better indicator is the colour of urine. A dark yellow colour may indicate dehydration.
Before a heat stroke occurs people show signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, mental confusion, headaches and weakness. If heat stroke occurs when the person is asleep symptoms may be harder to notice.
Signs of rapidly progressing heat stroke include unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds, fast heart rate, sign of moderate to severe difficulty in breathing, severe vomiting and diarrhoea, skin that may be red, hot and dry even in the armpits, convulsion (seizure), severe restlessness or anxiety.
First-aid steps: After calling medical services, one can follow these first-aid steps:
Move the person into a cool place (or at least in the shade) out of sunlight.
Remove the person’s unnecessary clothing and place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as possible.
Cool the person’s entire body by sponging or spraying cold water and fan the person to help lower the person’s body temperature. Watch for signs of rapidly progressing heat stroke – such as seizure, unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds and moderate to severe difficulty in breathing.
Apply ice packs over the body as much as you can. Cold compresses to the torso, head, neck and groin will help cool the victim.
Immersing a person in a tub of cold water (immersion method) is a widely recognised method of cooling. This method may require the effort of several people and the person should be monitored carefully during the treatment process.
_Immersion should be avoided for an unconscious person. If there is no alternative, the person’s head must be held above water.
If a person has stopped breathing, begin rescue breathing.
If the person is awake and alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids like juices – chach and aam panna for hydration. Most people with heat stroke cannot safely be given fluids to drink. You may have to help. Make sure the person is sitting up, so that he or she does not choke.
Avoid beverages like tea and coffee and alcohol.
Young children, adults or disabled individuals, left alone in a vehicle, are particularly at risk of succumbing to heat stroke. Heat stroke to children and the elderly can occur within minutes even if car windows are open slightly.
This beverage is good for a person suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustions.
1 large or 2 medium raw mangoes
2-3 cardamoms crushed or powdered.
4-5 pepper crushed or powdered (optional)
2 tsp black salt
Powdered jaggery/sugar, double the amount of the mango pulp – can add more sweetness
Rinse raw mangoes in water and steam them in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles till they become completely soft and remove the peel. Then take out mango pulp.
Mix the cardmom powder, salt and jaggery to the mango pulp. Store the aam ka panna in an airtight jar or bottle.
While serving aam ka panna, add 1 tbsp of the preserved panna to one glass of water. Stir and add ice cubes. Onion juice, mixed with mint leaves juice, taken orally can save as well as prevent a person from heat stroke.