Human body generates a lot of heat. In normal circumstances, our body is cooled via sweating and heat radiating through skin.
In very hot and humid environment, this natural cooling mechanism of our body fails leading to build up of heat in body to dangerous levels. It can lead to various illnesses related to heat such as Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and Heat stroke.
- 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 is the earliest sign of heat illness. If recognized early and treated well, then severe form of heat illnesses can be avoided.
Management of Heat cramps include: 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 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 it can be life threatening.
In this condition 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 brain and in some cases can even cause death.
Risk Factors are extreme physical activity and too much of cloths in hot and humid environment with poor oral intake of fluids.
Never leave a child in car alone, it is very dangerous. In USA lots of cases of Death has occurred due to accidentally leaving child in 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 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
- 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 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.
- Cloths should be light colored and loose.
- Do not play for long duration in daytime, play mostly in evening and if possible in shade.
- Teach kids to come indoors, rest, and hydrate immediately whenever they feel overheated.
Dr Rahul Varma
” Healthy kids, Happy Family”