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heat stroke represents one of the most severe cases of hyperthermia. It is about overheating of the body usually due to high temperatures. It arises as a result of the body not being able to regulate body temperature, thus generating dehydration and even that some organs stop working in the usual way.

In Spain, the vast majority of episodes of heat stroke occur between the months of July and August; During these months, in many areas of the country they exceed 40ºC daily. The vast majority of cases take place during the first 24 hours of a heat wave as the body has not yet gotten used to this high outside temperature.

Around 80% of people who suffer from heat stroke are over 65 years of age , which is why this population group is especially critical to this condition.

What is a heat stroke?

It is known as heat stroke to the situation that is generated when the body temperature is higher than 40ºC . The ideal temperature is around 37ºC; however, the body is very sensitive to external variations, so that a high outside temperature can lead to heat stroke.

The body has a large selection of mechanisms that somehow regulate its temperature and prevent it from increasing more than it should, such as sweat. Well, when heatstroke occurs, these mechanisms stop their operation, so that body temperature increases and a large amount of body fluids are lost . Although complications from heat stroke are not very common, in the most severe cases neurological damage can occur.

Although everyone is sensitive to heat stroke, the most vulnerable population groups are the elderly and children under five years of age. Also tourists from countries with a cold climate who travel to hot destinations, with a climate they are not used to.

Other population groups sensitive to heat stroke are: people with chronic diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disorders, overweight people, and workers who perform their tasks outdoors.


Sweat is the body’s own defense mechanism so that body temperature does not increase excessively. Well, when the outside temperature is very high, the expulsion of sweat becomes slower ; thus, if no additional measures have been taken such as maintaining good hydration, the body does not have the ability to cool itself.

This is when the body temperature rises and dehydration occurs ; Both conditions prevent some organs from working properly, leading to a wide range of symptoms. Therefore, if action is not taken urgently, the signs progressively worsen.

Symptoms of a heat stroke

It is important to pay the utmost attention to the symptoms of heat stroke since, in the presence of them, it is important to seek urgent medical assistance.

One of the main symptoms is dizziness , which is usually accompanied by a great feeling of confusion and disorientation . In addition, heat stroke generates excessive sweating at the beginning; thus, as the person in question loses body fluids, the amount of sweat progressively decreases.

The skin appears red and dry . Of course, the body temperature is high, generally above 39.4ºC.

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Some of the more serious symptoms related to this condition are: rapid heartbeat, severe headache, unconsciousness, and even seizures . They can also cause frequent vomiting and shortness of breath.

How to act if it happens?

As we have pointed out, quick action against heat stroke can prevent complications and health problems in both the short and long term. We explain the action protocol below.

The first and most important thing is to place the person in a shady place, which is as cool as possible ; In addition, to alleviate dizziness, it is convenient to place your feet up. Once the person is in a protected and safe place, medical assistance should be sought.

If the heat stroke has occurred at home, it is best to undress the person and place compresses soaked in cold water in areas such as the armpits or the groin; in this way, your body temperature decreases. You can also bathe in cold water .

It is advisable to check your body temperature every few minutes; in this way, when medical assistance arrives, the temperature variation can be communicated to facilitate diagnosis.

If there is something that in no case should be done if the heat stroke has occurred outside, it is to remove the clothes, even if you feel hot. And it is that the fabric of the garments largely retains moisture, thus preventing dehydration.

Tips to avoid heat stroke

Avoiding heat stroke is relatively simple if you take into account a series of tips.

  • Physical exercise: it is not advisable to do physical exercise during the central hours of the day; During the summer season, it is better to take advantage of the first hours of the morning or the last hours of the afternoon to practice sports. In the case of the elderly and babies and children, it is not even advisable to go outside between 12:00 and 16:00.
  • Exposure to the sun: the desire to achieve a good tan leads many people to spend a large number of hours in the sun from the first day of good weather. Well, to avoid a heat stroke, the ideal is that the exposure to the sun is progressive in relation to the time; 30 minutes the first day, 40 the second … In no case should you be exposed to the sun for more than two hours in a row.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol increases metabolism and, with it, body temperature. Therefore, it is better to avoid it during the summer to minimize the risks of suffering a heat stroke.
  • Food: regarding food, in summer it is advisable to avoid fatty foods since their digestion provides a large amount of calories to the body. Hot meals are not a good idea either. The best thing during the summer season is to bet on light and fresh foods, such as salads, fruits and vegetables.
  • Hydration: of course, it is essential to be properly hydrated; drink at least two liters of water daily. Although this is very important throughout the world, it is especially critical in the elderly and children.
  • Vehicle and home: a large number of heatstrokes that occur in summer are caused by staying in closed and parked vehicles for a long period of time. Similarly, the home should be cool and well ventilated.

Both the sequelae and the survival of a person who suffers from heat stroke are directly related to the early diagnosis of symptoms, as well as the action that has been carried out.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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