Hyperthermia is a rapid onset state that happens when the body cannot rid itself of heat speedily enough. It occurs when the atmosphere outside the body is not conducive to the body shedding heat rapidly enough. This is known as the thermal gradient.
If the body gets hot enough, its internal apparatus to manage temperature malfunctions. The internal thermostat of your body gets set to the uppermost setting. Your body will continue to heat up to the point that you may perhaps die.
Body temperatures above 40 degrees celcius (104 degrees fahrenheit) are life-threatening. This compares to typical human body temperature of 36-37 degrees celcius (97-98 degrees fahrenheit). The ordinary skin temperature away from the core is about (90 degrees fahrenheit) At 41 degrees celcius (106 degrees fahrenheit), brain death begins, and at 45 celcius (113 degrees fahrenheit) death is nearly certain. Internal temperatures above 50 degrees celcius (122 degrees fahrenheit) will cause rigidity in the muscles and certain, immediate death.
Hyperthermia has 3 distinctive stages:
Stage 1 is called heat cramps. This stage is characterized by muscle spasms or cramps. They usually start in the large muscles. Heat cramps are caused by imbalance in the electrolytes of the body.
Stage 2 is called heat exhaustion. This stage is characterized by a mild state of shock. They body has enlarged the size of the blood vessels in an attempt to get rid of its excess heat. The body is also perspiring copiously at this stage, which can cause a state of dehydration. The skin color will be will be pale. The temperature will be normal to elevated. Note that at this stage people still sweat. The heat compensation mechanisms of the body are running at 100% at this point. A person may also be dizzy or weak.
Stage 3 is called heat stroke. DANGER. This stage has a death rate of 20-80%! The heat compensation mechanisms of the body have grow to be overwhelemed and are closing down. The body becomes overheated. The body loses its power to control temperature. If this is not controlled quickly, brain damage may result.
A person does not have to be in a really hot environment for hyperthermia to occur. Certain medicines interfere with the ability of the body to regulate temperature. Other medicines interfere with the capability of the body to perspire. The young and mature are at more risk. Some conditions will also change the ability of the body to shed heat.
Some things the lay person can do to help somebody with heat exhaustion are:
– Call for emergency medical help
– Move the person (if they are able to walk) to a cooler environment such as shade
– Fan the person
– Avoid the use of frosty water. Always tepid water.
– Apply cool damp towels to the brow
Hyperthermia can be prevented. Watch the heat and humidity. Dress properly for the environment. Pay attention to your body. Swig plenty of fluids.