Heatstroke

Heatstroke is caused by failure of the body’s temperature control system when exposed to excessively high temperatures. Typical symptoms include a headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

Overview

Heatstroke is caused by failure of the body’s temperature control system when exposed to excessively high temperatures. Typical symptoms include a headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion. Depending on the extent of the damage, the consequences can be life-threatening. Drinking enough and taking breaks to cool off reduce the risk of heatstroke.

Symptoms

  • Feeling very hot, the skin is red and hot to the touch
  • Headache, nausea and dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Unsteady gait (“unsteady on the feet”)
  • Delirious, ranting
  • Disorientation, finally loss of consciousness

In the worst case, heatstroke can lead to circulatory and cardiac arrest.

Causes and treatment

Causes

The following can cause the body to overheat:

  • Hot weather (in particular in combination with high humidity)
  • Sauna that is too hot
  • Uncontrollably high fever
  • Dehydration of body owing to water loss (leading to inability to sweat)
  • Effects of medication or drugs

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Careful investigation of the body’s functions, in particular the cardiovascular system
    • Pulse, blood pressure, temperature, breathing, oxygen saturation, etc.
Possible therapies
  • Cooling
  • Intravenous fluid replacement
  • Medical observation until the symptoms improve

What can I do myself?

  • Wear the appropriate clothes for the temperature (in particular headcover)
  • Take regular breaks
  • Drink enough

Measures while waiting for the doctor

  • Put the patient in a bath filled with cool tap water, if possible
  • If not, wrap them in wet cloths
  • Fan them, switch on a cooling fan

In the case of children, the cooling process should be applied slowly and with great care.

When to see a doctor?

The emergency medical services or a doctor should always be called if heatstroke is suspected or confirmed.

Synonyms

sunstroke, heat exhaustion, fever

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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