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Sunstroke and heat stroke

Sunstroke and heat stroke can kill. They occur when the natural body temperature regulating system fails because of extended exposure to high environmental temperatures.

Heat stroke is often combined with periods of high physical exertion. The patient experiences a sharp increase in body temperature and an associated fever, which can cause permanent damage to internal organs, resulting in death if not treated immediately.

Heat stroke is often seen when somebody who is not acclimatised enters a particularly hot or humid environment, or performs strenuous physical activity in a hot and humid environment. Young children and the elderly arc at most risk, though in the right circumstances anyone can become a victim.

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These are the symptoms to look out for:

• The skin seems red, feels dry and very hot.

• The patient doesn’t seem to be able to sweat.

• Their pulse is strong and tast.

• Possible hyperventilation.

• Check the eyes. Do the pupils appear small?

• The patient seems to be developing a very high fever.

• The patient may appear disoriented or mentally confused.

• In advanced stages – unconsciousness with possible convulsions.

• Ultimately – death.

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If you suspect that somebody is suffering from sunstroke or heat stroke, you should take steps to offer immediate first aid, but your main aim should be to seek professional medical help as soon as possible.

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