Shivering? You must have heatstroke
We've enjoyed a run of hot summers over the last few years, and a glorious, record-breaking 2020. But heatwaves can also mean heatstroke.
Here, one of our first-aid experts tells us how to spot heatstroke and why it has some unexpected symptoms.
Last Wednesday, I was teaching on one of our first aid courses. The topic of the day? Extremes of temperature.
On looking at the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, one of my students said she had experienced shivering when she had heatstroke while camping.
"That's not what it says in the book!" I said.
"Well, I was definitely shivering!" she replied.
We do hear some weird, non-textbook symptoms when we’re treating casualties. This was certainly one of them.
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke is caused by our brain's thermostat, the hypothalamus – failing to regulate our body’s temperature. It happens when the body is unable to cool itself by sweating.
It's potentially quite dangerous and can develop with little warning. A person suffering from it could become unresponsive within minutes of feeling unwell.
Heatstroke is often caused by prolonged exposure to heat and humidity.
Signs and symptoms of heatstroke
If you suspect someone is experiencing from heatstroke, they might have:
- a headache
- dizziness or confusion
- flushed and very hot skin
- a strong pulse
- a raised body temperature
- deteriorating response levels.
What should you do?
You need to lower their body temperature quickly, and get them to hospital.
- Quickly help the person to a cool place and remove as much of their outer clothing as possible – but allow them to keep their modesty.
- Call 999.
- Cool the person by wrapping them in a cold, wet sheet or a t-shirt. Keep the sheet wet by pouring cold water over it. You have to cool them down with whatever tools you have to hand.
Learn first aid
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