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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home First Aid and Emergency Emergency First Aid for Heatstroke

Emergency First Aid for Heatstroke

Heat stroke is an abnormally elevated body temperature with physical and neurological symptoms, heat stroke is a medical emergency that can be dangerous if not attended and treated properly and promptly.



Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to control its own temperature and body temperature continues to increase, often to 106F or higher.  

Dehydrated persons are prone for heat stroke due to lack of sweating inturn fail to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise. 


High risk individuals


  • Infants
  • Elderly (often who are suffering from heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, on medications)
  • Athletes
  • Outdoor workers


Signs and symptoms 


Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps and aches.


Heat stroke can occur suddenly and rapidly without warning.


Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:


  • High body temperature
  • The absence of sweating
  • With hot red or flushed dry skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Agitation disorientation
  • Seizure and coma 


First aid and treatment for heat stroke 

Heatstroke is medical emergency; long-term complications are more if not attended immediately.

Call for the emergency medical services and follow these first aid steps.


Medical care


  • Remove the person's unnecessary clothing, and place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as possible
  • Cool the person's entire body by sponging or immersing him in cool-not cold-water
  • Fanning, sponging and wrapping in wet sheets
  • Move the person into a cool place, out of direct sunlight
  • Putting ice packs to the groin, neck, and armpits
  • Measure the person's rectal temperature frequently, and it’s better to reduce it to 102F or lower as soon as possible.
  • Breathing assistance in case of difficulty
  • Avoid aspirin and acetaminophen to reduce the body temperature
  • Oral Fluids in sitting position and in little sips to avoid choking
  • Hospitalization
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Intensive care should be given
  • Correction of electrolyte imbalance

  • Sedating the patient is also important.  Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates   play a major role in sedating patients, controlling convulsions, and controlling shivering.


Surgical care 

Fasiotomy to prevent the compartment syndrome


Oral feeding may be resumed when mental status, swallowing, and gastrointestinal tract function are normal.



  • Heatstroke can affect almost every organ system.
  • CNS sequelae include cerebellar deficits, dementia, hemiplegia, quadriparesis, and personality changes.
  • Compartment syndrome with severe Rhabdomyolysis and in patients who are immobilized
  • Acute renal failure
  • Acute liver failure
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation


Patient’s education 


  • Education is the single most important to the prevention of heatstroke. With the help of media, health promotion programs 
  • Similarly, drinking fluids on schedule (and not based only on thirst), frequent cooling breaks,  
  • Avoiding too much alcohol and drug intake and the use of medications