The human body generates a lot of heat. In normal circumstances, our body is cooled via sweating and heat radiating through the skin.
In a very hot and humid environment, this natural cooling mechanism of our body fails to lead to a build-up of heat in the body to dangerous levels. It can lead to various illnesses related to heat such as Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and Heatstroke.
- Prolong exposure to heat and sun
- Prolong and excessive exercising
- Excessive clothing
Kids are more at risk as they do not drink enough fluids.
Heat cramps are the earliest sign of heat illness. If recognized early and treated well, then the severe forms of heat illnesses can be avoided.
Management of Heat cramps includes: Shift child to a cool place, adequate rest, and plenty of fluids. If possible, give fluids that contain salt and sugar. Do stretching of involved muscles.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness that occurs when exposure to heat is there in absence of adequate fluids. Following are the symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- increase sweating
- cool, clammy skin
- elevation of body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)
Management of Heat exhaustion
- Shift the child to a cooler area, remove excessive clothing and give plenty of fluids to drink (salt-containing fluids preferable eg. ORS, coconut water, etc).
- Wrap a wet cloth or spray cool water on your child’s skin.
- Call for medical help if as soon as possible. If child is not able to drink, then may need IV fluids via drip set.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke, which can be fatal.
The most severe form of heat illness and can be life-threatening.
In this condition, the body is not able to regulate temperature leading to very high body temperature i.e. 106F or 41.1C or more, and can have bad effects on the brain and in some cases can even cause death. Risk Factors are extreme physical activity and too many clothes in a hot and humid environment with poor oral intake of fluids.
Never leave a child in the car alone, it is very dangerous. In the USA lots of cases of Death have occurred due to accidentally leaving a child in the car. Inside car temperature can reach as high as 125 F ( 51.7C) in just 20 minutes.
Management of Heat Stroke:
Call for emergency medical help if your child has been in a hot environment and shows one or more of these symptoms of heatstroke:
- severe headache
- weakness, dizziness
- rapid breathing and heartbeat
- loss of consciousness
- no sweating
- flushed, hot, dry skin
- the temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher
While waiting for help:
- Get your child indoors or into the shade. Undress your child and sponge him or her with cool water.
- Do not give fluids unless your child is awake, alert, and acting normally.
- Shift to a medical facility as soon as possible
To help protect kids from heat illness:
- Kids should be advised to drink plenty of fluids whenever in hot and humid weather even if they are not feeling thirsty.
- Clothes should be light colored and loose.
- Do not play for a long duration in the daytime, play mostly in the evening and if possible in shade.
- Teach kids to come indoors, rest, and hydrate immediately whenever they feel overheated.
” Healthy Kids, Happy Family”
Dr. Rahul Var