Sunstroke, also known as heat stroke, is a serious form of heat injury. It results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, particularly in combination with dehydration.
Sunstroke is often a progression of milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion. It is an emergency as it can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs after failure of the body's temperature control system.
The main sign of sunstroke is a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher. The body gets overheated because of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures and raise the body temperature.
The exposure to high temperatures causes complications involving the central nervous system. As a result, one may experience a sensation of motion or spinning. Sometimes, it results in loss of consciousness or even coma.
There can be lack of sweating despite heat in sunstroke. The skin will feel hot but it is dry to touch. On the other hand, heatstroke brought due to strenuous exercise makes your skin moist.
In sunstroke, your pulse may significantly increase or decrease. This happens because heat places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
Mental/behavioural changes in response to sunstroke are quite common. These include confusion, slurred speech, irritability, seizures and coma.
There can be many other symptoms and complications as a result of sunstroke. Throbbing headache, muscle weakness, nausea and rapid breathing are commonly associated with sunstroke.
The condition is an emergency and requires immediate attention. Untreated sunstroke can inflict damage to various body systems and organs, including the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. When treatment is delayed, the damage worsens and increases your risk of serious complications or death.
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