Brain & Behaviour Health

Precautions of Heatstroke

Written by Zaineb Akram

As a thermostat regulates indoor temperature same is the case with our body. Here the main controlling organ is called hypothalamus. Hypothalamus is a part of our brain that act as a command center for many bodily functions. Basically the hypothalamus functions by maintaining the fine tuning of complex temperature control activities.

During high temperatures hypothalamus sends signals to blood vessels to dilate. Due to this more and more blood flows through them and comes in contact with inner layers of skin. Then the evaporation process takes over to have a cooling effect on body, so that body temperature is maintained with in normal limits.

Why does the body temperature rise above normal limits if this system exists?? The answer to the question was given by Edward Ward, MD, director of the emergency department at Rush University Medical Center. He stated “Problems occur when a person is in the heat for a long time or in such extremes of heat or humidity that the evaporation process fails.” Due to prolonged heat exposure the most of the fluids and salts are evaporated from body leaving nothing useful behind, so the body faces dangerous situation. When this situation surpasses a normal limit it may even prove to be fatal.

The recent severe temperature rise in Karachi has made our nation realize the severity of the heatstroke phenomenon. The people of Karachi and in turn whole country could be seen memorizing the symptoms and precautions of heatstroke.

For those who still don’t know Karachi has suffered a huge loss of people at the hands of extreme heat. According to latest news the heatstroke proved to be fatal for 1200 citizens and 65000 people were treated during this heatwave. Along with many other reasons one of the reason was inadequate knowledge of people regarding this matter. According to a volunteer they saw a man sitting by the side of his son with water bottles and seeing him getting unconscious. Because he didn’t know what to do in this time.

Firstly one should know the major symptoms of heatstroke which include:

  • High body temperature
  • No sweating with reddish skin
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • It may even lead to coma in more severe cases

After identifying the person affected from heat, he should

  • Immediately be taken to a shady area.
  • Most of his clothes should be removed.
  • Cool water should be sprayed on the body
  • ice packs should be placed at armpits and groin area
  • should be made to intake cool water or beverages as available
  • Alongside efforts should be made to take him to nearby hospital.

After seeing the situation in Karachi one should realize the importance of first aid measures taken at the time of need. We as youngsters of nation should be aware of all these steps. As we have seen that volunteers have helped save more lives by applying these techniques. Due to less availability of medical care and transportation facility the people who cannot be taken to hospitals in time could be saved by taking these ordinary measures at home.



EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) Crash Course Book

The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

Toward Climate Justice by Brian Tokar



About the author

Zaineb Akram

Im Zaineb Akram, PhD Scholar in Biochemistry at Quaid i Azam University Islamabad, currently working at CMH Rawalpindi.