Sunstroke

Exposure of the head or neck to strong sun can irritate the meninges and cause sunstroke (also known as 'heatstroke').

Overview

Exposure of the head or neck to strong sun can irritate the meninges and cause sunstroke (also known as 'heatstroke'). Headaches and feeling very hot are typical. Affected persons should retire to the shade quickly, drink enough and carefully cool their head with wet compresses.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Stiff neck
  • Feeling hot, anxiety
  • Very red face

These symptoms may not appear until a few hours after exposure to strong sun .

Other symptoms

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Exposure of the head and neck to strong sun
    • Children and bald persons are particularly at risk
    • Contrary to popular belief, sunstroke is not caused by UV rays, but rather by heat radiation (infrared light)
    • This can penetrate the skull and heat up the meninges

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests

  • Neurological tests (testing of brain functions)
  • CT scan (computed tomography, e.g. if patient is unconscious)
Possible therapies
  • Immediate removal to the shade
  • Cooling of the head
  • Oxygen via a mask

What can I do myself?

  • Immediately retreat to the shade if you experience symptoms of heatstroke
  • Sit upright, don't lie down
  • Open tight clothing
  • Cool compresses for head and neck (not ice cold)
  • Drink enough
  • Keep your head covered as prevention
    • Also protect the neck

When to see a doctor?

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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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