On these days that we feel the energy of the summer and live the joy of meeting with the sun and sea, sun heat comes as a clinical picture as a result of deterioration of the mechanisms that regulate body temperature due to prolonged exposure to sunlight and harmful UV rays especially at noon hours, not consuming enough fluids as well as consuming alcohol-containing beverages. Near East University Hospital Internal Medicine Department Specialist Dr. Sena Ilin notes that with the increase of temperatures in the summer months, the health problems caused by heat stroke can range from simple sunburn to life threatening conditions.
Specialist Dr. Sena Ilin indicates that air containing high humidity especially in the geography that covers the Mediterranean Region is a factor that reduces the effect of the body cooling mechanism provided by sweating, as well as foods that are rich in carbohydrate content; heavy fatty foods and excessive alcohol consumption are among the other factors that trigger sunstroke.
“Our body's normal hemodynamics performs the sweating event by directing the blood flow backwards. The body's haemodynamic monitors and adjusts to conditions in the body and its environment and keeps the normal body temperature in balance by ensuring the excretion of hot air through breathing and sweating function. When exposed to the sun for a long time, these mechanisms become unable to function properly and symptoms caused by heat occur” noted she.
Underlining that heat stroke can cause impairment in vital organs such as heart, brain, liver and kidneys, Specialist Doctor Sena Ilin notes that severe organ failure may even lead to fatality.
In Which Cases Should Heat Shock Be Suspected?
- Dry - hot - painful skin
- High pulsation and palpitations
- Headache, nausea, vomiting and dizziness
- High temperature of 40 degrees and above
- Muscle cramps.
- Sleep tendency
- Consciousness impairment varying from hallucinations and drowsiness to coma
Who Are under Risk of Sunstroke?
Explaining that everyone who is exposed to high temperature is in the risk group, Specialist Dr. Sena Ilin notes that those especially in the groups below should pay more attention.
- Especially children younger than 5 and people over 65 years of age
- People with known heart disease, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and heart failure
- Especially the group of patients that followed up with the diagnosis of heart failure and use diuretic drugs
- Patients with chronic kidney failure, diagnosed with cancer (especially skin cancer)
- Individuals with alcohol consumption
- Pregnant women
- Long-distance runners that engaged in heavy exercise and those engaged in cycling sport
- Persons using the following drug groups;
- Antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs
- Drugs called beta-blockers that frequently used for the cardiovascular disorders
- Diuretic drugs
- Drugs containing atropine and used for digestive system disorders
Issues to be considered in people encountering heatstroke
Specialist Doctor Sena İlin said: “If you think a person has been exposed to sunstroke and if you are facing a situation that requires urgent intervention, such as impaired consciousness in that person, you must urgently call an ambulance to ensure that this person reaches the nearest medical institution. Specialist Doctor Sena İlin added that there are some measures that can be taken by the people around the person encountering heatstroke by the time healthcare professionals arrive. These are:
- Removing the person exposed to sunstroke into a cool environment and removing his/her tight clothing if any, giving him/her a cold shower
- Cooling of the head and neck area
- In case of nausea-vomiting, the patient should be laid to his/her side
- In order to decrease body temperature, apply cold water and/or ice cubes on key points of the body where the veins are close to the surface such as the wrists, neck, chest and temples and repeat this at certain intervals. If there is a chance to access the thermometer, measuring and monitoring the patient's fever every 10 minutes. In the absence of thermometer, application of cold compresses until the cooling of the patient's body is felt and repeating the process upon increase in body temperature is observed.
- Massage the arms and legs to increase blood circulation
- Provide drinking water to prevent dehydration. It is important to note that if the patient is conscious, there is no harm in giving water to the patient via the mouth; however, if the patient’s consciousness is not clear, do NOT give anything to the patient by mouth. This can have fatal consequences.
- The components of salt, which are largely lost in heat stroke, are sodium and chlorine. For this reason, salt supplement is also important besides water. Salt water should be given carefully. Especially in patients with hypertensive or cardiac problems such as heart failure salt water should be given under close supervision and at very low rates in order not to cause life-threatening situations.
NEVER do these in case of sunstroke
Specialist Doctor also made statements regarding the applications that should never be done to patients who are exposed to sunstroke.
She said: “If the patient is not conscious, do not give anything to the patient by mouth as this can have fatal consequences. Furthermore, behaviors which are common in our society such as getting the patient to sniff cologne and/or alcohol should be avoided. Especially children and people aged over 65, must avoid sun exposure during 10:00-15:00. If it is totally necessary for children and people over 65 to be out in the sun, then sunscreen that can provide good UVA and UVB protection (high SPF) must be used to provide adequate protection. Additionally, protective clothing and protective accessories such as hats, glasses and umbrellas should be used. It should not be forgotten that the sun can have harmful effects in addition to its benefits during the summer months and necessary precautions must be taken. Hoping that you have a splendid summer without any adverse health issues...”