Podcast #141: Heat Stroke - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast #141: Heat Stroke

836cd891-148b-438a-8707-e60b19737363Run Time: 4 minutes

Author: Nicholas Hatch M.D.

Educational Pearls:

  • It is possible to acclimatize to heat, however it takes approximately 2-3 weeks.
  • Never give tylenol for a heat related illness and heat related hyperthermia, it is not helpful.
  • Heat rash: most common in kids. Lotion should not be used because it blocks the ducts of the skin and can cause irritation and inflammation. The rash, which resembles a sunburn, is the body compensating for the increased heat by vasodilating blood vessels to get blood to the periphery and cool it off.
  • Muscle cramps: Especially in major muscle groups, oral hydration often enough, but the patient will need more than just water. Patients require an electrolyte based solutions like gatorade.
  • Heat syncope: characterized by passing out and returning to a normal level of consciousness and normal temperature. Patients potential can have a temperature up  to 104° Fahrenheit with mild brief altered mental status, but nothing significant.
  • Heat stroke: characterized by major altered mental status, temperature above 104, deceased perspiration, nausea, vomiting, and other end organ dysfunction. This is a life threatening emergency. If a patient says that they have “heat stroke” they probably do not…these people are usually sick as stink.
  • Hydration and rapid cooling are the treatment that should be initiated for heat stroke – undressing the patient and misting with a fan, ice packs applied to the groin and axilla, and chest tube and lavage or bladder irrigation w/ ice cold water are the hallmarks of therapy. .

References: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000056.htm

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