Updated April 20th, 2024 at 15:13 IST

Heat Stroke In Summer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of heat stroke is important for prevention and prompt treatment.

Heat stroke in summer | Image:Freepik

The risk of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, becomes a concern in peak summer months. Heat stroke is a severe form of heat illness characterised by a dangerously elevated body temperature. According to WebMD, “Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency.” Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of heat stroke is essential for prevention and prompt treatment.

Causes of heat stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature-regulating mechanisms become overwhelmed by high temperatures and humidity. It can be caused by prolonged exposure to extreme heat, particularly when engaging in strenuous physical activity outdoors without adequate hydration and rest. Certain factors, such as dehydration, alcohol consumption, and certain medications, can increase the risk of heat stroke.

Heat stroke | Image: Freepik

Symptoms of heat stroke

The symptoms of heat stroke can vary in severity but often include:

1. High body temperature (typically above 104°F)
2. Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
3. Rapid heartbeat and breathing
4. Headache, dizziness, and confusion
5. Nausea, vomiting, and muscle cramps
6. Fatigue and weakness
7. Fainting or loss of consciousness


It's important to note that heat stroke can progress rapidly and may be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Treatment of heat stroke

If you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke, it's essential to take immediate action to cool them down and seek medical attention. Here's what to do

1. Move the person to a shaded or air-conditioned area.
2. Remove any excess clothing and apply cool water to their skin or immerse them in a cool bath.
3. Use fans or air conditioning to lower the surrounding temperature.
4. Offer fluids to drink, preferably water or sports drinks containing electrolytes.
5. Monitor their vital signs and symptoms while waiting for emergency medical services to arrive.


WebMD wars against using ice in some cases. “Do not use ice for older patients, young children, patients with chronic illness, or anyone whose heat stroke occurred without vigorous exercise. Doing so can be dangerous”, says an article on WebMD.

Heat stroke | Image: Freepik

In severe cases, hospitalisation may be necessary for further evaluation and treatment. Intravenous fluids may be administered to rehydrate the individual, and measures may be taken to lower their body temperature, such as cold water immersion or ice packs.


Prevention of heat stroke

Preventing heat stroke involves taking proactive measures to stay cool and hydrated during hot weather. Some tips for prevention include:


1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially during outdoor activities.
2. Avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.
3. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect against the sun.
4. Take frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas, especially when engaging in physical activity.
5. Be mindful of alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.


Published April 20th, 2024 at 15:13 IST