Sun stroke

Sunstroke and Heat Stroke: Signs, Symptoms, First Aid

Even a short stay in the heat can be enough to get sunstroke or heat stroke. To avoid overheating, you should always follow the simple rules of prevention of these emergency conditions. Particular caution should be exercised by those who already have a headache after a few minutes from the sun. Such sensitivity often indicates hypotension, the presence of problems with blood vessels and internal organs. Also at risk are children, the elderly, people who are overweight and hormonal disorders, drinkers and smokers.

The consequences of sunstroke can be serious, so everyone should be aware of the features of the clinical picture of the condition and the rules of first aid.

Sunstroke main symptoms

Sunstroke is a type of heat stroke. It is an acute condition that results from exposure of a persons head to direct solar radiation and overheating. If you have felt intense heat in the top of your head while in the sun, there is a very high probability of a painful phenomenon.

Exposure to a physical factor leads to a sharp and pathological dilation of the blood vessels. Blood rushes to the head in a large volume, there is a risk of stagnation of the biological fluid. This is fraught with small hemorrhages, circulatory disorders, accumulation of toxins and free radicals in the tissues, disruption of sweating. Headache after sun exposure can occur suddenly or after some time. In both cases, a characteristic clinical picture develops.

Sunstroke is accompanied by these symptoms:

  • headache;
  • nausea and possibly vomiting;
  • general weakness;
  • dilated pupils;
  • frequent pulse, shallow and rapid breathing;
  • problems with coordination, deterioration of gait;
  • nosebleed is possible;
  • increase in body temperature to 38 ° C or higher;
  • redness of the skin;
  • profuse sweating;
  • decrease in blood pressure;
  • confusion or loss of consciousness may occur.

If a few hours after exposure to the sun you have a headache and nausea, it is necessary to carry out all the same measures that are designed to provide first aid to a person with an emergency condition. This will prevent the situation from worsening and the development of complications.

Consequences of sunstroke by degree

The results of the negative effects of the sun on the human body can vary. In most cases, the phenomenon leads to a temporary worsening of the condition of the affected person, but soon the symptoms disappear and everything normalizes.

Under the influence of a number of factors, the likelihood of complications increases significantly. This is contributed to by high humidity, hypertension, IHD, obesity, heart defects. Children under one year of age and the elderly, people under the influence of alcohol or stress are at great risk.

After exposure to the sun, one of three degrees of emergency may develop:

mild – cephalgia appears, pulse becomes rapid, skin becomes dry and red, temperature rises. Muscle pain is not uncommon. If the clinical signs are pronounced and help is not given, there is a risk of skin and brain damage;

Moderate severity – the basic clinical picture is supplemented by nausea, vomiting. The person may lose consciousness. In the initial presence of the victim of diabetes mellitus, gout and other diseases of internal organs, there is a high probability of the development of serious adverse effects. Dilation of cerebral vessels is often accompanied by microscopic bleeding. Prolonged course of the disease without treatment threatens hemorrhagic stroke;

Severe – to all of the above, a fever of over 40 degrees Celsius is added. The patient is lethargic, delirium and hallucinations are likely. The pulse rate is lower than normal, and convulsions occur. If the person is not treated immediately, loss of consciousness is likely to lead to coma and death.

One of the most common and dangerous complications of sunstroke, regardless of its degree, is dehydration. Pathological fluid loss threatens to disrupt the water-salt balance, vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This leads to a failure of metabolic processes and disruption of internal organs. It is important to understand that you cant fight the phenomenon with alcohol, energy drinks and carbonated beverages. Such liquids only aggravate the condition.

Sunstroke in a child

The thermoregulatory system in children is still underdeveloped, so a child suffers more than an adult when overheated. Children dressed in synthetic clothing, overweight babies, or those with nervous system disorders are more likely to get sunstroke. The danger is a violation of the drinking regime in hot conditions. The clinical picture is standard, but the symptoms are brighter and progress faster.

If a child has a headache and develops a clinical picture of sunstroke, it is strictly forbidden to do the following:

  • put ice on the sore spot, put the child under a cold shower;
  • give your baby to drink strongly chilled liquids or drinks with ice;
  • Lubricate burnt areas of the skin with products with alcohol or compositions on a fat basis. It is better to use special products based on benzocaine, which will reduce pain and accelerate healing;
  • to open blisters that were caused by sunburns;
  • rub the baby with vinegar – it can lead to poisoning.

The treatment for sunstroke in children should be the same as for an adult. Even if a mild condition is suspected, an ambulance should be called so that specialists can assess the victims condition and rule out the possibility of complications.

First aid
The first thing to do when a person is suspected of developing sunstroke or heat stroke is to rule out exposure of the body to a provoking factor.

The patient should be moved to a cool, well ventilated room or to shade. Do not allow masses of people around the patient, the space should be as free as possible. Call an ambulance or paramedics as soon as possible.

Emergency aid in case of sunstroke:

  • lay the patient on a horizontal surface, put a bolster under the legs, turn the head on its side in case of nausea or vomiting;
  • Remove or loosen outer clothing so that it does not press on the body and does not interfere with breathing;
  • Regularly give cool drinking water or still mineral water in small portions. A pinch of salt can be added;
  • rub the victims face with a cloth soaked in cold water, apply a similar compress to the back of the head and the back of the neck;
  • it is necessary to wrap around the patient until the arrival of medics, to monitor his consciousness and behavior;
  • In case of fainting, the patient can be given a cotton swab moistened with ammonia or a 10% ammonia solution;
  • If breathing and pulse stop, you must immediately begin resuscitation measures – indirect heart massage and artificial respiration.
  • If the necessary actions are taken immediately, the risk of complications or of the patient progressing to a more severe stage will be significantly reduced. Further specialized therapy by specialists will quickly relieve the affected person from distressing symptoms.

Whether to call an ambulance

Even at a mild stage of sunstroke, it is better not to take risks and seek help from professionals. The pathological condition does not always develop brightly against the background of exposure to the provocative factor, sometimes it can become complicated after the person has left the sun. The above remedies may not be enough to completely neutralize the pathological processes. This is especially true in cases of people whose condition is complicated by the presence of additional risks (disease, obesity, age).

The medical team will use antipyretics, antihistamines, and anti-inflammatory medications. Doctors will restore the patients water-salt balance, preventing the effects of dehydration. In some cases antispasmodics may be necessary. Qualified specialists, if necessary, will carry out all necessary resuscitation measures, reducing the likelihood of a lethal outcome.

What to do after a sunstroke

When first aid is given and the patients life and health are not in danger, the work is not over. In for several days a number of rules must be followed that will allow the injured person to recover quickly without unpleasant consequences for the body. First, it is better to minimize physical activity for 1-2 days. If possible, it is better to spend this time in bed, away from the scorching sun. Secondly, you need to drink a lot to restore the water balance and remove toxins from the body. Thirdly, it is recommended to take a shower several times a day, so that the products of metabolism, which go through the skin, do not accumulate on its surface.

Prevention of sunstroke

The bodys reaction to heat or sun exposure develops rapidly. At the first signs of a problem, there is nothing that can be done to prevent the condition, but only to lessen its harmful effects. Such phenomena are a strong stress for a person, which never goes away. It is better to take care in advance to minimize the potential risks.

To prevent the development of sunstroke, it is necessary to follow these rules:

  • Protect your head in the heat with a light and ventilated headgear, an umbrella;
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun when it is most active, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m;
  • Do not be in the sun for more than two hours, even when all protective equipment is available;
  • Do not sunbathe immediately after eating, refuse to sunbathe in a static position – it is better to take them in motion;
  • Exclude things made of synthetics from your closet;
  • follow the rules of water consumption – drink at least 2-3 liters of liquid per day, depending on weight;
  • Wash regularly, take a cool shower or wipe your skin with a damp cloth.
  • At the first sign of a worsening condition, move to shade or a room, call a doctor, or ask others to do so. If you are prone to heatstroke or sunstroke, it is better to minimize the time you spend in the sun.

The human body is unable to function properly without sunbathing and exposure to ultraviolet light. People who get a headache even from a short stay in the sun should see a therapist or neurologist. Perhaps a specialist will be able to identify the causes of this phenomenon and tell you how to eliminate them.

Sunstroke is a type of heat stroke.

Is sunstroke a burn?

No, they are completely different concepts even though the cause may be the same – exposure to sunlight.

Sunburn comes from exposure to ultraviolet rays, impact comes from exposure to heat.

Although it is not uncommon for sunstroke to be accompanied by skin burns.

Sunstroke often occurs when a person is in the sea for a long time on a swimming mattress or lap. Being exposed to direct sunlight for a long time does not save even a hat.

Exposure to the suns rays on a person with an uncovered head primarily affects the brain. 20-30% of such cases are fatal without medical attention.

Who is at risk?

The elderly, pregnant women, and young children are at higher risk of heat stroke. People with cardiovascular disease are also particularly affected.

Are there any factors that contribute to sunstroke?

Sunstroke (heat stroke) can occur more quickly if

  • Dehydration.
  • Wearing thick or heavy clothing in the heat.
  • Excess weight, which causes the body to produce more heat and reduces the bodys ability to cool down.
  • Lack of sleep, which can reduce the rate of perspiration.
  • Unaccustomed to the heat, such as traveling from a cooler climate to a warmer climate.
  • Taking certain medications, most commonly antihistamines (taken for allergies), diuretics (taken for high blood pressure or swollen legs), laxatives (used to treat constipation), medications for Parkinsons disease, pre-tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Being in a poorly ventilated or unconditioned space.
  • Heat stroke in the past.
  • What are the symptoms that signal sunstroke?

Sunstroke is the same as overheating. The body cannot fight prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

The first symptoms of overheating are excessive thirst, weakness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Once sunstroke begins, the person stops sweating and may even stop drinking.

Three degrees of severity of sunstroke:

Light Degree:

The victim experiences headache, nausea, weakness.

Medium Degree:

Disorder of coordination, stunned state, fever are added to the main symptoms.

Severe degree:

Confusion, seizures, high risk of death.

If after first aid there is no possibility to transport the victim to a colder place, he begins to have delirium, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, the skin becomes cold, the pulse quickens. Such a condition is life-threatening.

In this case, urgent medical care is needed.

Sunstroke most often affects children 2-5 years old playing in the sun without a headdress.

How do I prevent sunstroke?

If you need to be outside in warm temperatures, drink plenty of fluids regularly. And never ignore early warning signs.


  • shadowing
  • the use of sun protection clothing, creams and other products
  • Avoiding being outdoors between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Increase the amount of liquid you drink

How to help a person?

  • Move to a cooler place
  • Call an ambulance
  • Lay down in a horizontal position with the legs elevated
  • If the victim is vomiting – lay him on his side
  • Start cooling your body with physical methods
  • Desolder

Remember, long periods of rest in the sun can be fatal if sunstroke occurs.


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