Heatstroke can be dangerous for sufferers and can come on very quickly. With the heatwave showing no signs of stopping, we spoke to Dr Luke Powles, lead GP at Bupa Health Clinics, about the symptoms to look out for, how to treat it and when to seek urgent medical help.
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke, also known as sunstroke, is caused by spending too much time in the sweltering temperatures or physically exerting yourself in the heat.
“Sunstroke can come with a number of symptoms including paleness, sweating or clamminess, increased heart rate, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, intense thirst, nausea and vomiting,” says Dr Luke Powles.
“Also look out for heat rash, a red cluster of pimples or small blisters that usually occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin and in the elbow creases.” Dr Powles says heat rashes are often harmless, and people with one may benefit from over-the-counter remedies at their local pharmacy.
Symptoms are often the same in adults and children, according to NHS Choices, although children “may become floppy and sleepy”.
To prevent it, it is important to keep hydrated, by drinking plenty of cool drinks, but avoiding alcohol; and to keep cool by wearing light fabrics, avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm, sprinkling water over your skin or taking cool showers.
How to treat heatstroke:
Dr Powles says that first and foremost, people exhibiting symptoms should be cooled down. “Move them into a cool place, get them to lie down and put their feet up, give them plenty of water and cool their skin with a cold pack, or towel,” he explains.
The person should start cooling down and feeling better within 30 minutes, if not it is very important to seek medical help.
When to get urgent help
If symptoms progress to the ones listed below, or the person is no better after 30 minutes, you should call 999.
:: They feel hot and dry.
:: They aren’t sweating even though they are too hot.
:: They have a temperature that’s risen to 40C or above.
:: They have rapid or shortness of breath.
:: They’re confused.
:: They have a fit (seizure).
:: They lose consciousness.
:: They are unresponsive.