Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia is an increase in the internal or core body temperature resulting from circumstances such as strenuous exercise or exposure to high environmental temperatures. Fever is by far the most common cause of temperature elevation. The body responds to this heat stress with mechanisms de-signed to maintain core temperature close to 98.6°F (37°C). The respiratory rate will increase which causes heat to be lost from the lungs), and sweat will evaporate from the skin (which rips the body cool).

If the environmental temperature is higher than body temperature, the only way heat can be lost from the body is through evaporation. In high humidity conditions sweat does not readily evaporate, thus slowing the cooling process even more. Dehydration increases the risk of hyperthermia, as do certain medications that may reduce the body’s ability to sweat. Hyperthermia can take the following forms.

Heatstroke

This is the most severe form of hyperthermia, occurring during extremes of temperature-d very strenuous exercise. The body temperature often climbs above I05°F, when there is an absence of sweating.

Heatstroke Symptoms

  • confusion
  • impaired coordination
  • loss of consciousness

Heatstroke Treatment

  • Heatstroke is a medical emergency that should be treated immediately.
  • Remove the victim’s clothing.
  • Move him to a cooler environment.
  • Blow air on him with a fan while spraying him with a mist of water.
  • Give him liquids. (If the person cannot take enough liquid by mouth, he will need intravenous fluids.)
  • Apply cold packs to the groin or the armpits.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is milder than heatstroke, the body temperature may or may not be elevated.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • headache

Heat Exhaustion Treatment

Heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke if not treated properly, but symptoms should resolve within one hour with proper treatment. Follow the same treatment as given above for heatstroke.

Heat Syncope

This is fairly common and typically occurs when a person must stand for a prolonged period in a hot environment. (A band member standing at attention for an extended time on a hot day is a candidate for this problem.) In this case, blood pools in the legs, causing blood pressure to drop until the person feels faint.

Heat Syncope Treatment

  • Move to a cooler location.
  • Have the person lie down.
  • Elevate the legs.
  • Give liquids.

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