Education And Debate

ABC of Sports Medicine: Temperature and Performance - II: Heat

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 03 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:587
  1. E L Lloyd

    The general principles of heat balance were considered in the article on cold (20-27 August, p 531).

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    Heatstroke develops when the body is unable to get rid of the excess heat being produced. There will be a varying combination of high environmental temperature, high humidity, lack of wind, vigorous activity, heat retaining clothing, and dehydration. Early symptoms include excessive sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, hyperventilation, and disturbance of consciousness. Consciousness may be lost or clouded and there may be hallucinations. There may be muscle twitching or convulsions and loss of control of the body sphincters. In severe cases there may be deep coma with pinpoint pupils. They may be in shock with tachycardia. Tachpnoea is often present and breathing may be difficult and vomit inhaled. The patient feels warm or hot and has a high core temperature (rectal usually >41°C). Sweating may or may not be present. Diagnosis depends on a high index of suspicion.

    Treatment of heatstroke

    1. Lay the patient flat and raise the legs

    2. Cool by removing clothing within modesty, spraying with warm or tepid water, and fanning with warm air Do NOT use ice baths, ice packs, cold sponging, or …

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