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Life StyleUnderstanding the difference between heat exhaustion, heat stroke and muscle cramps

Understanding the difference between heat exhaustion, heat stroke and muscle cramps


“Understanding the difference between heat exhaustion, stroke and cramps”

As temperatures continue to soar across the country with the intense heatwaves, it is common to feel confused about the medical terms associated with heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion, heat stroke and muscle cramps. In a simple explanation, Dr. Shrey Srivastav from Sharda Hospital in Noida helps decode the difference between these conditions for concerned citizens.

According to the physician, heat exhaustion occurs when the body temperature rises above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit due to prolonged sun exposure. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps as the body tries to cool itself through sweating which leads to fluid loss and electrolyte imbalance. If not treated on time by resting in a cooler place and rehydrating, it can progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke, on the other hand, is a severe and life-threatening condition where the body loses its ability to regulate temperature, causing the temperature to spike over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It can lead to organ damage, unconsciousness and even death if emergency treatment is not provided immediately. The heart rate fluctuates abnormally trying to stabilise fluids. Apart from extreme body temperature, warning signs include fainting, confusion and seizures.

Muscle cramps triggered by heavy exertion in hot environments are commonly experienced in laborers, athletes and elderly individuals. As a consequence of dehydration from heat exhaustion and stroke, they manifest as painful spasms felt in skeletal muscles like calf, abdomen and back which restrict movement temporarily.

The doctor recommends hospital care for people suffering from heat stroke along with intravenous fluids and monitoring of vital signs. Replenishing fluids orally through foods high in electrolytes like coconut water, bananas and oral rehydration solutions can help treat heat exhaustion and prevent cramps at home along with adequate rest in an air-conditioned . Staying hydrated by carrying water at all times and avoiding direct sun exposure is key to staying safe during these hot months.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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