How Long Does Heat Stroke Last?
Before we consider how to treat heat stroke at home, you must know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time on account of which one loses salts and water too quickly. If the body is not cooled quickly enough, heat exhaustion could end up in a heat stroke. During a heat stroke, the body can no longer cool itself down as its sweating mechanism stops completely. Today, we will study some important remedies to treat heat stroke at home.
1. Get out of the heat
At the first sign of heat exhaustion, get the patient out of the heat immediately. This might seem like the obvious thing to do and yet, many people ignore it. Lay the patient down in the shade and where possible, provide some air conditioning. Do not allow the patient to return to the heat at least for a few hours as it could bring about a relapse. If the patient is unconscious yet breathing, have them lie in a tub of cool water.
2. Get wet
This is one of the most important of heat stroke first aid steps. Spray cold water all over the body and especially the head. If possible, place the patient under or in front of a fan. This will help him/her cool down quickly. You can also apply ice to the forehead, armpits, head, neck and groin area.
3. Administer fluids
Dehydration is one of the common symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Keep giving the patient plenty of fluids. Cold water and sports drinks work best because they replenish the lost salts quickly and also lower the temperature of the body internally.
4. Athletes and laborers take precautions against heat strokes
Athletes and laborers are usually the most susceptible to heat strokes as they have to spend hours outside in the sun. For athletes, it is very important to measure the body weight daily in order to ensure that one is not getting dehydrated. If there is a marked weight loss, one needs to increase the fluid intake and also ensure that one’s urine is clear. Laborers must avoid working outside in the sun during the peak sunny hours of 10 am to 4 pm as far as possible. If this is not the case; they must seek shade from time to time, drink tons of water and wear a wide brimmed hat with loose cotton clothes. One must also work in shifts and get rest in between.
5. Cover up
Athletes and laborers must avoid going outdoors without a shirt on. A shirt can prevent absorption of radiated heat and also act as a cooling agent to assist the temperature regulation mechanism of the body.
6. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol interferes with the body’s temperature regulation mechanism and can also decrease your ability of recognizing the signs of heat stroke. So avoid alcohol on the days you are outdoors in the sun.
7. Herbs for heat stroke
Many herbs are known to help in regulating the body’s temperature. Korean Ginseng, Mulberry leaves, Licorice, Peony bark, and peppermint leaves are some of the best herbs to treat heat stroke at home. You can make a cool tea with these herbs and sip it from time to time.
8. Essential oils for heat stroke and heat exhaustion
When pouring cool water on the person’s body, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to it. Lavender oil is also one of the best essential oils for treating heat stroke and heat exhaustion. You can make a cool compress by adding these oils to a basin of cool water and soaking a towel in it. Apply this to the neck and back. Repeat application over the next 24 hours. You can also apply the essential oils to the temples, pulse points etc.
9. Tips for preventing heat strokes and heat exhaustion
- Wear the right gar when outdoors in the sun, especially in summers. White or light colored clothes are best. Also wear a scarf and/or a wide brimmed hat.
- Keep plenty of fluids with you.
- Have a cool bath where possible.
- Make use of fans or air conditioning to keep the air circulating.
- If possible, go to areas having air conditioning such as cinema halls, malls etc.
How long a heat stroke or heat exhaustion lasts depends on the patient’s existing health condition as well as the extent of sun/heat exposure. Typically, a patient of heat stroke will recover within a couple of days. If there are signs of vomiting, nausea, severe headache, cramps, fever, confusion or memory loss; seek medical help immediately.