5 Medical Conditions That Increase the Risk for Heat Stroke

2011-07-22 | |
Last updated: 2011-07-22

In the thick of the modern summer, heat waves are an increasingly common occurrence. Regardless of whether you are a climate change skeptic or are convinced of the science behind global warming, record temperatures are being hit at a rapid rate. In an attempt to prevent injuries caused by elevated temperatures, our governments spend considerable effort to warn people of the risks. Although we are all at increased risk when the heat becomes oppressive, those with specific conditions face a greater threat.

What Health Problems are Caused by Excessive Heat Exposure?

When our body experiences higher temperatures, it normally attempts to cool us by sweating. The evaporation of our sweat takes with it considerable heat allowing our core body temperature to remain within healthy limits. However, if we are unable to sweat or our sweat cannot evaporate, we have no other natural ability to keep our bodies cool. Both dehydration and high humidity in the air can cause this situation.

If we do overheat in hot weather, this can cause a number of health problems. The first level of overheating, called heat exhaustion, is defined medically as being overheated with a core body temperature of less than 40 C or 104 F. For a person suffering from heat exhaustion, the effects of high body temperature can cause a mild form of shock if fluids and electrolytes are not replaced.

If we overheat to a higher body temperature of more than 40.5 C or 105 F, we will develop a condition called Heat Stroke or sunstroke. The condition is also called hyperthermia and is much more dangerous than heat exhaustion. This is because Heat Stroke can lead to permanent damage within the body. Heat Stroke can cause muscle injury. It can cause failure of our internal organs, including the heart. It can even damage our brains and nervous system. Ultimately if Heat Stroke causes too much damage, it can be deadly.

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Category: Disease Information, Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks

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