Heat stroke

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

HIRA RASHEED MEMON Heat stroke, also known as sun­stroke, ther­mic fever or siri­a­sis, hap­pens when the body’s mech­a­nisms for con­trol­ling tem­per­a­ture fail. Heat stroke is a lifethreat­en­ing emer­gency need­ing im­me­di­ate treat­ment. While many peo­ple feel sick and faint dur­ing heat waves, most of these peo­ple suf­fer from heat ex­haus­tion, a re­lated con­di­tion usu­ally less se­ri­ous than heat stroke. There are two types of heat stroke: clas­sic, non-ex­er­tional heat stroke (NEHS) and ex­er­tional heat stroke (EHS). Clas­sic heat stroke oc­curs most com­monly in very young or older in­di­vid­u­als, who have health risks and are in poor en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. Ex­er­tional heat stroke oc­curs more often in younger, healthy in­di­vid­u­als who par­tic­i­pate in stren­u­ous phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

Work­ing or ex­er­cis­ing in hot con­di­tions or weather with­out drink­ing enough flu­ids is the main cause of heat stroke. You can get heat stroke by not re­plac­ing lost flu­ids over days or weeks, or you can bring it on in a few hours by ex­er­cis­ing stren­u­ously on a hot day with­out drink­ing plenty of liq­uids first. Liq­uids help to cool us down by al­low­ing the body to pro­duce sweat. How­ever, liq­uids are also nec­es­sary for bod­ily func­tions, such as keep­ing up blood pres­sure.

You can lose large amounts of body fluid in the form of sweat with­out notic­ing any ef­fects, but at a cer­tain point the body will re­serve the re­main­ing fluid for vi­tal func­tions and stop sweat­ing. The body’s core tem­per­a­ture then shoots up, and cells start dy­ing. Sweat evap­o­rates more rapidly in dry weather, cool­ing body more ef­fi­ciently than in hu­mid weather. When work­ing in hu­mid con­di­tions, the core tem­per­a­ture rises more rapidly. This is why weather fore­casts add a hu­mid­ity fac­tor or heat index to rep­re­sent how you will ac­tu­ally feel out­doors.

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