If you suffer from heat illness…

“What are the symptoms?” “What should I do?” If you notice somebody with symptoms of heat illness, it is important to remain calm. Let’s learn here how to deal with cases of heat illness.

What are the symptoms?

Noticeable symptoms include a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, and generally feeling unwell. Other warning signals include the complete inability to sweat even in hot places, dry skin, and skin that feels hot to the touch. Sometimes people may also be affected in terms of their awareness; they might seem vacant, or be unresponsive or give incomprehensive answers when spoken to.

Types of Heat illness

The severity of heat illness can be classified as shown below based on the need for certain types of treatment. In particular, if there is any suspicion that the symptoms may be affecting the brain, such as loss of consciousness, it is extremely important that the symptoms are all considered as level 3 heat illness (serious illness) and must never be left untreated.

Level 1: Can be treated with first-aid at the scene.

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First, move the person to a cool place.
Loosen their clothes to cool their body down.
Replenish their water and salt content.

Level 2: Mid-level severity that requires the patient to be transported to hospital.

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First, move the person to a cool place.
Loosen their clothes to cool their body down.
Replenish their water and salt content.
Raise their feet and let them rest.
If unable to drink on their own, take them straight to hospital!

Level 3: High severity case that requires the patient to be hospitalized for special care.

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Cool the person down with water and ice (neck, armpits, base of the feet, etc.).
Call the emergency services straight away!

What should I do?

If you have the right knowledge such as how to cool the body down or how to give water correctly, you can minimize the damage inflicted on the patient.

Move the person to a cool place.
Take their clothes off and do your best to cool them down.

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Move the person under the shade with a cooling breeze, or if possible, take them to an air-conditioned room.
Take their clothes off to help them lose heat from their body.
Pour water over their exposed skin, and use a fan or electric fan to cool them down.
If you have an ice bag, it can be very effective to apply it to the base of the neck, under the armpits, the base of the thighs, or around the hip joint (these areas have thick blood vessels running right under the skin, so applying an ice bag in those areas can help cool down the blood as it passes through).
You should cool the person down as quickly as possible. Whether you can save someone’s life when suffering from severe heat illness depends on how quickly you are able to lower their temperature.
Even if you have called the emergency services, it is extremely important to start the cooling process before they arrive. If their core body temperature goes over 40℃, there is a danger that the person could experience other symptoms such as full-body seizures (whole body convulsions) or blood coagulation disorders (inability to clot the blood).

Replenish water and salt

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Cold drinks can dissipate heat through the surface of the stomach. If the person has sweated a lot, it is ideal to replenish the salt lost in their sweat with sports drinks or other oral hydration solutions. Another effective drink is a saline solution made by mixing one liter of water and 1 to 2 grams of salt.
If they are fully conscious and responsive, you can just give them water to drink. However, if they are unresponsive or if they do not react when spoken to or stimulated (mentally altered), the water may enter their air duct by mistake. Also, feeling nauseous and vomiting is a sign that their stomach has already been weakened. In these cases, please do not give them water to drink.

Take the person to a medical institution

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If the person is unconscious or cannot take water on their own, the priority is to take them to a medical institution as a matter of urgency.
In reality, nearly half of heat illness cases are from level 3 to level 2, where the person needs to receive infusions (rehydration through intravenous injections) and be under strict management (monitoring of blood pressure, urine, etc.).

What is heat illness?