Our body is made in such a manner that under normal circumstances it tries to maintain its temperature at the normal level. If the body is exposed to excess of cold or hot weather conditions, it works overtime to maintain body temperature at the normal level. When a child gets exposed to a very high temperature say of 104 °F, it results in malfunctioning of the nervous system.
Heat stroke can be classified broadly into being of two types. These are:
Classic heat stroke condition is caused due to the exposure of the child to external heat conditions, may be environment’s heat, and is very common in case of children. This is associated with lack of sweating which further raises body temperature.
The second type is exertional heat stroke which generally occurs in young people who are otherwise healthy and indulge in excess of exercise during the time when the outside temperature and humidity is high. This is common with athletes.
Signs and Symptoms
The child suffers from severe heat cramps which appear in the arms, legs or abdominal region of the child, usually during or after physical activity in extreme hot weather conditions. Due to excess of sweating during physical activity, a large quantity of salt is lost resulting in cramps. Before going to play in hot weather the child should drink a lot of water. In case the child has developed cramps which are painful, he should be taken to a cool place and given fluid to drink. Slowly the child will feel normal.
Exhaustion due to heat is a severe form of heatstroke faced by children. This condition also occurs due to loss of water from the body due to exposure to hot weather conditions. The symptoms of exhaustion are dehydration, weakness, fatigue, headache with nausea and or vomiting and rapid heartbeat. The skin of the child may become clammy and the child becomes irritable.
If such symptoms are noticed in the child he should be immediately brought indoors and his belt or other tight fittings should be loosened. A bath in cool water will be of great help. The child should drink plenty of fluid which could be anything of his choice. Some salt can also be added in the fluid he drinks. In extreme cases IV infusion may be necessary. If timely attention is not provided the condition could become fatal and may cause damage to some vital organs.
The severest form of heat stroke is when the body fails in its effort to maintain its temperature and it soars up to 106 °F. This is a critical condition and could result in damage to the brain or death of the child. This condition is also created due to loss of water and strenuous exercise during extreme hot and humid conditions. This could also happen if the child is left for a long time in a locked car with closed glasses which could take the temperature even to 125 °F.
The symptoms of this condition are hot and dry skin with no sweating, throbbing headache, dizziness, confusion and the child acts fatigued out. In case of overexposure the child may lose consciousness and show symptoms of seizure.
In such a case emergency medical help is a must. Do not try cooling the child yourself, however during the waiting period for medical emergency to arrive take the child to a cooler place, cover his body with wet cool cloth and if possible give him fluid to drink.
When the children grow up they have the tendency to move out of the house and play around in the open. As the child grows his health care learning process should start. He should be explained in clear words about the conditions in which he is supposed to play and precautions he needs to take during hot weather. When moving out, make the child wear light color clothes which should not be too tight and made from cotton cloth which allows breathing. Preferable time of playing in open should be in evening after sunset in summers. The child should carry a bottle of water with him and should be taught to drink water at regular intervals. It is certain that the child will follow the instructions and will remain safe.