Saturday, July 04, 2009

The link between Heat Stroke and seizures

It’s the beginning of June, but the weather is still stifling hot, with humidity levels on a constant rise. Though most of us would like to stay
Can you feel the heat? (Getty Images)
indoors, you can’t totally avoid the sun and have to step out at some point or the other.

Besides the hazards that sun exposure causes to your skin and hair, there are heat-related illnesses that can strike during the summer months. A heat stroke is one such serious condition where a person’s body temperature gets exceedingly high, either due to dehydration or due to the body’s inability to sweat properly due to extreme heat and exertion under the sun. Generally, athletes are known to face such conditions, but even regular individuals like infants or the elderly are susceptible to it.

Cosmetic surgeon, Dr Madhu Chopra says, “Heat strokes occur when a person’s cooling system stops working and the internal body temperature rises to the point where the brain or other internal organs may get damaged. Some of the common causes for this are high humidity, obesity, Diabetes, alcoholism, pre-existing illnesses and rigorous activity.” She suggests looking out for symptoms like an absence of sweating, flushed skin, a rapid pulse, difficulty in breathing, hallucinations and seizures.

“To avoid exhaustion, do not engage in strenuous activities in hot, humid environments. People who are not used to the heat should be particularly careful,” she warns. “Intersperse periods of rest in a cool environment with plenty of liquids to drink; wear light coloured cotton clothes and protect yourself with a cap or hat,” she adds.

Consuming adequate amounts of liquid during the summer is a necessity and Dr Shamma Shetye, microbiologist stresses the need to keep the body well-hydrated. “Our body is composed of 75 per cent water and excessive sweating can cause major water loss in the system. Heat strokes start with headaches, muscle pain, dizziness and in extreme cases cause liver failure. It must be taken seriously,” she says.

She adds that during the summer months we tend to eat out a lot and consume artificially flavoured cold drinks. “It would do good if one can drink plenty of natural liquids such as water, cucumber juice, amla and lemon juice. It’s essential to drink fluids with electrolytes and keep the sugar-salt balance intact,” she concludes.


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