Heat Stroke in Seniors | Prevention and First Aid at Home



As temperatures rise, many people avoid going out during the day. However, heat stroke can still occur indoors, especially among the elderly. Recognizing and promptly treating heat stroke symptoms is crucial to prevent serious health risks.

High-Risk Groups for Heat Stroke

People who engage in outdoor activities without proper precautions in high temperatures can suffer from "exertional heat stroke" due to muscle contraction generating heat that cannot be dissipated. For those over 70, weakened physical condition and reduced sensitivity to temperature changes can lead to "classic heat stroke" even indoors if the environment is hot and humid with poor ventilation.

Additionally, elderly individuals with chronic illnesses may take medications that suppress sweating or affect cardiovascular temperature regulation. Some medications cause frequent urination, leading to dehydration, which increases the risk of heat stroke.

Common symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, headache, flushed face, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, dry skin without sweating, and a body temperature that can exceed 40°C (104°F). Severe cases can result in emotional instability, slurred speech, or unconsciousness. Although seeking medical attention is the safest course of action, some measures can be taken to reduce risks before or during transportation to the hospital.

Five Key First Aid Steps

1. Move the person to a shaded area and remove or loosen unnecessary clothing.

2. If there is no nausea, vomiting, or unconsciousness, offer sports drinks to replenish fluids and electrolytes.

3. Have the person lie down with their legs slightly elevated above their head.

4. Sprinkle water on their body or use warm water to wipe their skin to lower body temperature. Avoid giving ice water or submerging the person in cold water.

5. Apply cold towels to the neck, armpits, and groin areas instead of the forehead. Change towels every three minutes and stop cooling after 10-15 minutes.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Seniors

1. When the perceived temperature exceeds 33°C (91°F), take measures to cool down, even indoors.

2. Pay attention to humidity levels; when humidity reaches 75%, it becomes harder for the body to dissipate heat. Ensure good ventilation or use other methods to reduce humidity indoors.

3. Hydrate by drinking 2000cc (about 68 oz) of water daily. Avoid alcohol and high-sugar beverages as they can lead to further dehydration. Note that tea can cause diuresis, which is not suitable for hydration.

4. Avoid outdoor activities during peak heat hours, from 10 am to 2 pm. If you need to go out, wear a hat or use an umbrella for shade, and wear loose, breathable clothing.

5. Whether indoors or outdoors, have ice packs or cold towels ready to cool down the body as needed.


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