Coup de chaleur

Heatstroke is an emergency that occurs when the body becomes overheated, either after exercise in high heat or after being in an overheated place. Also called hyperthermia, it can occur at any age and cause malaise, dizziness or fever. We help you recognize the signs.


Heat stroke (or hyperthermia): what is it?

We often tend to confuse heatstroke and sunstroke. In fact, while sunstroke is caused by direct sunlight hitting the head, heat stroke is much more insidious and can happen suddenly when you have exerted yourself in a hot and humid environment.

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Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself after exposure to too high a temperature for too long. It can affect athletes who train during the hottest hours of the day, people who take long journeys in unventilated or air-conditioned cars, but also elderly people who do not sweat enough or patients who take certain medications. In the long term (beta-blockers, diuretics and certain antidepressants).

Can you die from heatstroke?Heat stroke is an emergency. Mortality has decreased in recent years due to better care and early and effective treatment, but still remains around 10%. The evolution is most often favorable, but the heat stroke can sometimes leave sequelae (cramps, neurological disorders).

What are the symptoms of heat stroke that should alert?

the heatstroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself after exposure to too high a temperature for too long.

The signs are :

  • high fever, temperature above 39°C,
  • reddened facial skin that becomes hot and dry (without sweating),
  • great fatigue,
  • a strong feeling of thirst,
  • of the headache violent,
  • of the dizzinessor even loss of consciousness and convulsions,
  • even nausea and/or vomiting,
  • incoherent remarks, even behavioral problems…
  • Rapid breathing and rapid heart rate

How long does heat stroke last?

Once the person is in a cool place, the body temperature drops. In the case of minor forms, heat stroke regresses in less than 12 hours. The evolution is generally favorable and there are no sequelae.

What to do and how to treat heat stroke?

In the absence of measures to cool you down as quickly as possible, hyperthermia will progress, potentially causing irreversible damage to vital organs. The major risk of hyperthermia is indeed cardiac arrest.

the heat stroke is an emergencyit is then imperative to call the SAMU (15 or 112), and while waiting for help, to undress the person as much as possible and refresh it with wet and fresh cloths on the body and the face.

  • Install the victim as soon as possible in a cool and shaded place.
  • If she is conscious, give her some cool water. in sufficient quantity but neither alcohol nor coffee nor sodas which promote dehydration.
  • Remove tight clothing: in case of high temperatures, it is always advisable to wear loose, light-coloured clothing (and made of natural materials such as cotton and linen).
  • Apply wet towels to his skin to lower body temperature (no cold showers as this increases the risk of heat shock, which is bad for the heart). If possible, place ice packs on thighs and arms.

How to avoid heat stroke?

The onset of heat stroke in adults is more common in seniors. Also, the reduction of certain treatments is recommended during heat waves. Ask your doctor for advice. Similarly, the use of fans and air conditioners should be promoted. It is necessary to drink regularly.
In children, especially infants, prolonged exposure to the sun or in closed places (cars) should be avoided. He It is essential to give water regularly to any child exposed to heat. Finally, the wearing of caps or the use of parasols should be favored during sunny days.


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