Sunstroke - what to do?

A sunstroke - as well as the heat exhaustion, the heat spasm, the heat collapse and the heat stroke - is one of the heat damages. Typical symptoms of a sunstroke are a red head as well as dizziness and headache. Read here how to treat a sunstroke and how to protect yourself from a sunstroke.

Sunstroke: What is the cause?

Sunstroke (Insolation, Heliosis) belongs to the group of heat damage - this includes health disorders that are caused by an elevated ambient temperature over a longer period of time. Often heat damage occurs at high temperatures due to prolonged outdoor activity. By staying in the solarium, on the other hand, a sunburn can occur, but usually no sunstroke.

The cause of a sunstroke is a prolonged direct sunlight on the unprotected head and the neck. The heat radiation of the sunlight can cause irritation of the meninges and brain tissue. This can lead to inflammation of the meninges (meningitis), which can lead to permanent damage to the brain in particularly severe cases. In addition, a brain edema may form, which can lead to a seizure, but also to a respiratory arrest or a coma state.

Typical symptoms of a sunstroke

A bright red head, neck pain or neck stiffness as well as headache and dizziness are the typical symptoms of a sunstroke. Most headaches increase when the head is bent forward. In addition, symptoms such as nausea and vomiting or ear noises may occur. In addition, it can lead to unconsciousness of the affected person and a collapse of the circulation in severe cases. In the worst case, a sunstroke can also lead to the death of the affected person.

In contrast to a heat stroke, in which the body temperature is usually greatly increased, this is often in the normal range in a sunstroke. Only the head is very hot, the rest of the body feels normal or even rather cool. In some cases, especially in children, a sunstroke can cause a fever.

In general, it should be noted that the typical symptoms of a sunstroke can sometimes be felt only several hours after staying in the sun.

Sunstroke and heat stroke: Where are the differences?

A heat stroke occurs when the heat regulation of the body is disturbed, for example, by a prolonged exposure to heat and this leads to a build-up of heat. Heat stroke therefore does not always have to be caused by direct exposure to the sun.

In contrast to a sunstroke, the body temperature is greatly increased during heat stroke, it is usually over 40 degrees. Typical symptoms of heat stroke include a red hot head, hot and dry skin, increased heart rates and a staggering gait. In a heat stroke so the whole body feels hot, while in a sunstroke only the head is affected.

Similar to a sunstroke, a heat stroke can lead to unconsciousness of the affected person. If the heat stroke is not treated in time, it can lead to death.

Sunstroke in children

Children are particularly at risk of getting a sunstroke. Their skullcap is very thin and thus offers little protection from the sun. In addition, children in the first two years of life have few hairs that can protect the head and neck from the sun. Therefore, in addition to children, even persons with a bald head and a short hairstyle have an increased risk of sunburn.

Children are particularly at play when playing outdoors and when bathing endangered to get a sunstroke. In addition, care should be taken during long car rides that the child's head is not exposed to the sun. In addition to the typical symptoms, children are often restless and whiny in a sunstroke. More often than in adults, they have a fever and the child appears unusually pale.

Sunstroke: the right treatment

If you suspect a sunburn in a person, you should take the following actions:

  • Put the affected person in the shade immediately. Lay it flat on the floor and store the head and upper body slightly higher.
  • Cool the head and neck with damp, cool cloths or a cold compress. This should not come directly from the freezer, because of extreme cold, the body is additionally burdened.
  • Call an ambulance if the condition of the person does not improve within a few minutes. If the person is unconscious, you should immediately contact a doctor. Keep a close eye on the person until the doctor arrives and regularly check your mind and breathing.
  • If the affected person is unconscious, you should put them in a stable side position. If you can not detect normal breathing, CPR must be performed.

If the patient avoids the sun, the symptoms usually return completely within a few days. However, it should be remembered that the duration of a sunstroke may vary from person to person.

How to protect yourself from a sunstroke

The best way to prevent a sunstroke is to wear a light-colored headgear that ideally protects your neck. You should also avoid long sunbathing and outdoor activities during the midday heat. For longer activities in the sun, make sure to stay in the shade for a while. In addition, children should not be left alone in the car when the heat is high.

In order to avoid heat stroke, you should take care not to wear too warm clothing in high heat, so as not to hinder the heat regulation of the body. Especially with large sweat loss, it is important to drink enough non-alcoholic drinks.

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