Warning signs, treatments and ways to stave off heat stroke

SACRAMENTO - With temperatures expected to soar above 100 degrees in Sacramento Thursday, and children in the midst of summertime sports and outdoor activities, the danger of overheating and falling victim to heat stroke are of serious concern.

From soccer matches to a simple game of tag in the park, outdoor activities during periods of excessive heat can push one's temperature to the point where heat exhaustion and eventual heat stroke occur.

"You can think of it as a continuum," Kaiser Permanente Pediatrician Dr. Steven Millar said. "Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a progression to circulatory collapse, heart failure, kidney failure and even seizures and convulsions can occur. This happens generally when the body temperature goes above 104 [degrees]."

But barring bringing a thermometer to the playground or the ball park, how can one determine if they or their child are approaching dangerous territory?

Millar pinpointed four symptoms that can be predictors of heat exhaustion:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Decline in ability or effectiveness to participate in activities

Should someone begin to display these signs, Millar recommended the following remedies to bring the body temperature back down to a normal level:

  • Stop participating in any activity
  • Get out of the sun
  • Cool down a car with the air conditioning and then bring the person who is suffering inside
  • Remove any extra clothing or sports equipment
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Place cooling towels on the forehead
  • Call 911 for emergency care if the person's temperature does not drop

As is recommended with maintaining one's general health, preventative measures are always recommended over providing treatment following the onset of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Millar said the best way to avoid exhaustion would be to refrain from participating in outdoor activities amid extremely hot or humid conditions. However, if staying inside is out of the question, Millar said proper hydration is the best line of defense against heat-related ailments.

"Teens should drink about 1 to 1.5 liters of water per hour of outdoor activity. Younger children should drink around a half liter of water per hour of activity," Millar advised. "If you're going to be participating in an event, drink plenty of water the day prior to beginning your activity. If you go in well-hydrated, you'll be at lower risk of developing heat stroke or heat exhaustion."


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