As we enter the hottest month of the year, we become more susceptible to heat-induced conditions. One of the highest occurring of these conditions is what’s known as heat stroke. Below, personal trainer Joe Schuyler provides information on understanding, recognizing, reacting to and preventing this dangerous condition.

What is heat stroke?
  • It’s a condition caused by your body overheating. Should body temperatures rise to 104 F (40 C) or higher, the condition becomes lethal and requires medical attention.
  • There are two types of heat stroke
    • Nonexertional (classic): Being in a hot environment leads to a rise in core body temperature. This type of heatstroke typically occurs after exposure to hot, humid weather, especially for prolonged periods. It occurs most often in older adults and in people with chronic illness. 
    • Exertional heatstroke: Anyone exercising or working in hot weather can get this, but it’s most likely to occur if you’re not used to high temperatures.
What causes heat stroke?
  • Prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. Summer is where these conditions are seen most frequently.
  • In either type of heatstroke, your condition can be brought on by:
    • Excess clothing that prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Not drinking enough water to replenish fluids lost through sweating, resulting in dehydration
What are the signs/symptoms of heat stroke?
  • High body temperature. 
  • The person might seem confused, irritable, or delirious. Slurred speech, irritability, seizures, and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Lack of sweat/slightly moist skin, yet the skin is still hot
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed/red skin
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate due to the body’s stressed attempt to cool your body.
  • Headaches
How to respond to heat stroke
  • Call 911 or get the individual to the closest emergency room.

If waiting for emergency management services:

  • Move person into the shade or into an air conditioned environment
  • Elevate their feet higher than their head to reduce the chance of shock
  • Remove clothing, spray them with cool water and fan them
  • Apply cold packs under their arms, on their groin area, and behind their neck.
  • Have them drink something cool, but only if they are not disoriented and not vomiting.
  • Stay with the individual until EMS arrives
Heat stroke prevention
  • Even if you’re not thirsty, drink non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages. Not just water, but also sports drinks, since they can replenish electrolytes 
  • If you’re going to be outside in high temperatures for long periods of time, take frequent breaks indoors
  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing made of fabric that breathes and allows your sweat to evaporate.
  • Wear light colored, lightweight, breathable clothes that wicks sweat away from your body so that it can evaporate
  • Refrain from outdoor activities from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, which is the hottest time of day

 

Interested in a training session with Joe Schuyler or another PWC personal trainer? Please contact fitness manager Patrice Barklund at 540-445-5395 or pbarklund@culpeperwellness.org

Joe leads the Culpeper Wellness Running Club, which holds group runs twice weekly and offers a great opportunity to pick up some training tips, learn about gear, and establish a network of running buddies.