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Heatstroke in Children: causes, symptoms, prevention

Heatstroke

What exactly is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a potentially fatal condition when your body temperature exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). It’s probably the result of overexertion in hot, humid conditions.

What causes heatstroke?

Heatstroke

High temperatures can cause a loss of water and mineral salts, altering our body’s thermal regulating mechanism. As a result, the body overheats, preventing essential organs from functioning correctly.

Young children under four years old are the most at risk. Their bodies heat up faster than adults because they have less water, don’t sweat, and don’t have a fully developed respiratory system.

A child can suffer from heatstroke whenever they are exposed to situations with humidity and high temperatures without adequate protection or hydration. Although it is most common on hot, sunny days, it can also happen on cloudy or shady days.

heatstroke
Beat the Heat

In hot weather, excessive physical exertion and long periods of direct sunlight increase the risk of heatstroke.

How to prevent it?

Prevention is the main treatment for heatstroke: don’t put a child in this situation in the first place.

Precaution:

  1. Hydrate: It is necessary to frequently offer liquids to children (breast in infants) without waiting to ask, especially if they carry out prolonged physical activity. Meals should be light; fresh fruit and vegetables help replenish salts lost from heat. 
  2. Limit physical activity: Children should not be allowed to exercise excessively during the day’s hottest hours (the central hours of the day). Those times, suggest calmer games to avoid dehydration.
  3. Appropriate clothing: It is best to dress in breathable, light, loose-fitting, light-coloured cotton clothing when it is extremely hot. Don’t forget to cover your child’s head with a soft hat and apply sunscreen whenever they are outside.
  4. Keep them cool: Keep children in the shade, and if possible, use air conditioning or fans. Bathing or getting wet is recommended regularly.
Heatstroke

Do not leave children alone in the car under any circumstances, neither in the sun nor in the shade, even if the windows are open. Vehicles in the summer can reach incredibly high temperatures inside, and it should not be forgotten that it is the cause of fatal heat strokes every summer. 

What are the symptoms of heatstroke?

A child suffering from heatstroke may experience dizziness, vomiting, fever over 40°C, headache, and irritability. In the most severe cases, fainting or loss of consciousness may occur. You should also be aware of other symptoms such as dry skin, fatigue, weakness, shallow and rapid breathing, or muscle cramps.

How to act if we suspect it?

Heatstroke

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We must never forget that heatstroke is an extreme medical emergency. It occurs very quickly (in just a few minutes), and if not treated immediately, it can progress drastically and even lead to death. It is essential to transfer the child to a hospital. But in the meantime, if you are dealing with a child with heatstroke, you should:

• Place them on their backs in the shade, in a calm and ventilated environment.

• Loosen their clothes and remove any excess clothing.

• Apply cold water compresses (not ice) to the head, face, neck, and chest.

• Do not immerse the child in ice water or rub anything that contains alcohol.

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be fatal to people of all ages, including children, the elderly, and those with long-term health disorders like diabetes or heart disease. Keep an eye on them.

Image source: Canva

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About Author

I am an energetic mom of two kids, still learning the ropes of it. I am so excited to start writing about tips, tricks, and advice on things of everyday life.

(11) Comments

  1. A very important topic. Heatstroke is quite common among all ages. Summer is the time for outdoors but as you have mentioned, we should be thoughtful about the hours. Along with this, reminding ourselves and our kids to be hydrated.

  2. Such a perfect post for upcoming summer season Anjali. heat stroke is common and can be fatal sometimes. your post cover all important pointers, will help lots of parents to keep their kids safe during summer.

  3. Keeping kids hydrated can be a task but you can mix water with different flavours of summer coolers. I love fresh iced tea as it refreshes well.

  4. Heatstroke can be really severe and have alarming repercussions. One needs to exercise caution, especially if you are staying in a place where the mercury tends to soar. These are some really nice tips to safeguard against heatstroke.

    1. You’ve shared some very useful tips for children to avoid heatstroke. This post must also be shared with all parents, as the chances of kids getting heatstroke gets high during summers, especially when heat is at its peak.

  5. Shreemayee Chattopadhyay says:

    This is such a timely post as summer is approaching fast. These points will really helps the parents to keep their kids safe. Thanks for sharing.

  6. With summers getting bad by the day this posts makes more of sense for parents and us mums to ensure kids are hydrated and protected from the harsh sun. Its a nice and helpful post to understand the symptoms and ways to get rid

  7. Heatstroke is dangerous and this is such an informative article about how to handle a heatstroke especially among children. I do not have kids but my friends do, Will send this to them.

  8. Heatstroke is common among small children. Parents should know how to deal with it. Good that you shared this post to create awareness.

  9. Heat strokes are very common amongst kids in summers. Your pointers are simple and helpful. Prevention is always better and one needn’t take risks where not needed.

  10. Judy Morris says:

    Though I have never experienced a heat stroke like the one you have mentioned I do have severe exhaustion and heating of the head part on going out in summers here in Delhi. Thanks for the tips you gave kids but I will implement them for myself also

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