7 Natural Ways to Treat & Prevent a Heat Stroke
The most important thing you can do to avoid heat stroke is to drink more water than you usually do because you are losing fluids through sweat. Drink two to four cups of water every hour when you are outside or exercising. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start drinking water. By then, you are already becoming dehydrated and putting yourself at risk of heat stroke. Also, make sure that your children and others at a higher risk of heat stroke are drinking enough water throughout the day.
If you’re not a fan of drinking water all day, there are other beverages that will help you to stay hydrated. Try to make your own fruit smoothie or veggie juice. Sparkling water is a great option because it comes in several flavors. Kombucha is hydrating and it supplies healthy probiotics. Adding sliced lemon, lime or even whole berries to your water can make the taste more satisfying.
2. Eat Hydrating Foods
In order to avoid dehydration and the possibility of heat stroke, eat fruits and vegetables that are hydrating. They have a high water content and contain valuable electrolytes. Some of the best hydrating foods to beat heat stroke symptoms include:
- coconut water
- bell peppers
- iceberg lettuce
These hydrating fruits and vegetables are full of important electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. Eating plenty of these foods will help you to stay hydrated and combat electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes help you to maintain fluid balance, keep blood pressure levels stable and help with nerve signaling, just to name a few roles of these vital nutrients. You can become dehydrated more easily if you have an electrolyte imbalance. This increases your risk of developing heat stroke symptoms.
3. Avoid Sugary Drinks, Alcohol and Caffeine
It’s important to prevent dehydration by avoiding the consumption of sugary, sweetened drinks, alcohol and caffeine. All of these dehydrating beverages cause increased urination and electrolyte loss. Plus, consuming too much sugar can lead to inflammation. This makes the symptoms of heat stroke even worse. Although sports drinks are marketed to keep you hydrated during physical activity, many of these products contain a ton of added sugars and synthetic flavorings. So, opt for natural electrolytes instead. Try coconut water or adding hydrating fruits to your water.
4. Avoid Direct Sunlight
To avoid developing heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses, limit your time outdoors on those hot days, especially midday when the sun is at its hottest. If you’re outside on a very hot day, stay in the shade. If you’re in an open space, bring an umbrella for protection. For athletes who train outdoors, schedule your workouts earlier or later in the day when there are cooler temperatures.
5. Stay in an Air-Conditioned Building
You have to keep your body temperature cool during times of extreme heat. Using a fan alone as your cooling device isn’t going to be enough on those really hot days. You are going to need to stay in an air-conditioned home or building for as long as possible.
If you don’t have access to an air-conditioner in your home, find an air-conditioned shelter in your community and get some relief there for a few hours. Examples include shopping malls, movie theaters, local libraries, community centers and restaurants. Studies also show that opening windows and using fans at the same time can offer protection against heat stroke during a heat wave. But make sure you aren’t just circulating hot air, which can be dangerous.
Other ways to reduce your body temperature include taking a cool shower or bath, applying a cool compress to your head or the back of your neck, wearing lightweight and light-colored clothing and avoiding strenuous activity.
6. Check your Medications
Some medications can increase your risk of heat stroke because they affect how your body reacts to the heat or they interfere with your salt and water balance. Medications that may alter your ability to deal with high temperatures include antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihistamines, drugs for heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol, laxatives, diuretics and medications for seizures. If you’re taking any of these kinds of medications, talk to your doctor about your increased risk of heat-related illnesses. And take special care to stay hydrated and cool on hot days. It’s also a great idea to research natural remedies for the health issues that you’re being medicated for, if possible.
7. Check on Those at Risk
On those really hot days, make sure to check on people who are at a greater risk of developing heat stroke symptoms. This includes people over the age of 65, people with chronic medical conditions, infants and children and people who don’t have air conditioning in their home. Research also shows that social isolation is associated with an increased risk of heat-related illness. This includes people who are unmarried or widowed, living alone or those who tend to stay home all day.
Make sure your loved ones have access to a cool place and that they’re drinking enough water. Never leave infants or children in a parked car. Also, make sure to dress them in loose, light clothes. Don’t forget your pets, too! They can develop heat-related illnesses from being left outside in the heat for too long and not having access to water. (21)
If you’re with someone who is displaying heat stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. Then move the person to a cool place. Try to cool him down by applying a cool compress to his forehead or even pouring cool water over his body. Then wait until medical professionals take over. Don’t hesitate to call for help, as heat stroke is a serious medical emergency. Immediate treatment is vital.
Final Thoughts on Heat Stroke
- Heat stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the body can no longer cool itself. Your body’s core temperature reaches above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and puts you at risk of organ failure and death.
- The four stages of heat-related illness are: heat syncope, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and, the most severe stage, heat stroke.
- The people at the greatest risk of developing heat stroke include the elderly, infants and children, people with chronic medical conditions, people without access to air conditioning, athletes and people who work outdoors.
- When someone suffers from heat stroke, their body temperature most be reduced immediately and they must be hydrated intravenously until their fluid levels return to normal.
- To prevent heat stroke naturally, drink plenty of water throughout the day, avoid dehydrating beverages, stay in an air-conditioned place, wear loose, light clothing, avoid direct sunlight, check that your medications aren’t interfering with your hydration and check on loved ones who are at risk of heat-related illness.