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What is a heatstroke? Know if you have it

Updated: May 23rd, 2024

Gujarat has been grappling with sweltering temperatures for the past few days.

Apart from daily commuters, street vendors, delivery and sales agents, and stray animals are having a tough time coping up with the heat. Cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Himmatnagar, and Surendranagar have seen the mercury exceed 45°C, making it difficult to step out during day time. Night time temperatures too have remained high.

Even IPL team KKR’s owner Shah Rukh Khan had to suffer the brunt of the heat during the match between KKR and SRH on May 22. He suffered from dehydration and had to be rushed to a hospital in Ahmedabad for treatment.

A red alert has been issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) till May 24 in Ahmedabad and an orange alert in the state till May 27. 

What is a heatstroke? When to consult a doctor?

‘Heatstroke’ is a medical emergency and the “worst-case scenario” taking place in the body due to heat, according to Senior Physician Dr Praveen Garg at Shashwat Hospital, Ahmedabad.

“Whenever you feel unusual symptoms in the body like temperature exceeding 104°F, headache, vomiting, sweating, discomfort, irregularities in passing urine, consult a medical practitioner at the earliest,” said Garg while talking to Gujarat Samachar Digital.

Dr Garg quoted five important changes in the body due to heat exposure; Skin rashes, cramps, exhaustion, disturbed sweating mechanism and heat syncope (fainting due to heat exposure).

Exhaustion includes low levels of sodium and water in the body, also known as dehydration.

“Most heat-related illnesses are caused by dehydration, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated,” added Garg.

These are some tips to avoid heatstroke, as suggested by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH):

Stay hydrated: Drink more water, juice, and sports drinks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Eat regularly.

Stay cool indoors: Use air conditioning or visit cool public places. Take cool showers or baths.

Wear light clothing: Choose lightweight, breathable,  light-coloured, and loose-fitting clothes.

Protect yourself: Cover your head and apply SPF 15+ sunscreen every two hours when in the sun.

Schedule activities wisely: Avoid strenuous activity during the late afternoon. Plan outdoor activities for early morning or evening. Rest often in shaded areas. Do not leave kids or pets in a parked car.

Pace yourself: Start activities slowly and increase the pace gradually. Take regular breaks. If you feel unwell, stop, cool down, and rest.

Use a buddy system: Check on friends and family, especially the elderly or those with health conditions, twice a day during heatwaves. Be alert for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Also read:

Gujarat to sizzle in 45°C till May 27, heatwave alert issued by IMD