Fact-check: Heat stroke can be fatal

Fact-check: Heat stroke can be fatal

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Heat stroke

The body temperature rises to about 40 degrees Celsius, coupled with a severe imbalance of salts such as sodium and potassium in the body. 

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was recently hospitalised after experiencing a heat stroke. While the discomforts associated with soaring temperatures are well acknowledged, many people are uninformed about the health risks associated with exposure to high temperatures. Heat stroke, a severe form of heat illness, can be a life-threatening emergency.

Here's what happens: When the surrounding temperature rises to such an extent that the body is unable to sweat to regulate its temperature, an individual experiences heat stroke. The body temperature rises to about 40 degrees Celsius, and the condition is coupled with a severe imbalance of salts, such as sodium and potassium, in the body. 

The co-existence of compromised body mechanisms can affect the normal functioning of multiple organs in the human body. If the brain is affected, an individual may feel foggy, and in extreme conditions, can slip into a coma. One’s kidney and liver could also suffer damage, eventually resulting in death. The individual is likely to exhibit clinical signs of central nervous system dysfunction, which may include delirium, and seizures.

The risk of suffering a heat stroke is greater when the ambient humidity is above 75 per cent. Engaging in strenuous physical activity during hot days also aggravates the risk of being afflicted by a heat stroke. 

Cases of sun stroke must be treated immediately. Firstly, the affected individual must be given cold fluids, common salt or oral rehydration solution (ORS) to normalise the electrolyte levels. The elderly and the very young deserve special care, since they are a high-risk group. 

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. It’s advisable to avoid stepping out during the day when sun is at its peak — between 11 am and 4 pm. Hydration is crucial; regular intake of cold water, or ORS is a good idea. Light-coloured, loose clothing, umbrellas, and caps can further add to one’s sun defence. Taking cool showers or baths frequently is also highly recommended. 

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