Download Icon

Use App for best experience!

Available for Android & iOS

Popular Tests
    Top test not found
Popular Packages
    Top test not found
  • playstore
  • app store
play store

Popular Tests
    Top test not found
Popular Packages
    Top test not found

The Long-Term Effects of Heat Stroke: What You Need to Know

The Long-Term Effects of Heat Stroke: What You Need to Know

Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is a severe heat illness that occurs when you are exposed to high external temperatures or an extreme environment. It is a serious health concern which calls for proactive care and treatment to avoid adverse effects in the long term. Generally, it starts with hyperthermia; one of the primary causes of heat stroke is prolonged exposure to temperatures greater than 40° Celsius for a sustained duration. Heat stroke is widespread in sub-tropical countries like India that witness hot weather during the summer season.

Climate change is believed to be one of the leading factors for heat stroke which inadvertently, is also affecting businesses. According to data, heat exposure has impacted working hours for labourers to the tune of 167 billion working hours due to extreme and unbearable heat exposure – this is equivalent to 5.4% of the national GDP. As of 2021, there were 31,000 casualties in India and globally, the number stood at 3.1 lakhs due to heat-related medical concerns.


Brief Overview

Heat strokes often occur as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat syncope (fainting), heat cramps and heat exhaustion, with complications involving the central nervous system that occurs after exposure to high temperature.

Certain health conditions can increase the risk of heat stroke in patients, especially individuals with a genetic inclination to heatstroke. Anyone can get heatstroke but infants and elderly individuals are at a higher risk as their bodies may not be able to effectively maintain the ideal temperature. In the worst-case scenarios, heat stroke can lead to brain damage, organ failure and even death.

The risk, however, can be reduced by undertaking precautions to avoid overheating and excess dehydration. A better indication is the colour of urine; a dark yellow colour may indicate dehydration, and drinking fluids instantly should turn it into a light/ clear colour.

Suggested Read: What is Tuberculosis Symptoms Prevention and Everything Else You Must Know 



The most evident symptom of heat stroke is a surge in body temperature to 104°F (40°C). Furthermore, unconsciousness might be one of the first signs of a heat stroke. Besides these, there are a few other signs of heat stroke to look out for: -

  • Cramps/ Muscle weakness
  • Headache and dizziness
  • A surge in a heartbeat
  • Behavioural changes, unconsciousness and unusually slow breathing


What to do in the event of a sudden heat stroke?

If an individual around you experiences heatstroke, seek immediate help and call the local emergency number. In the meantime, take immediate action to help the overheated person: -

  • Get the person in a cool environment (shade/indoor).
  • Remove any additional layer for clothing.
  • Sponge the person with cold water using a wet towel, have him/her take a shower, or use an ice pack.
  • Fan the person with water mist or anything that brings down the temperature.

In the worst-case scenario, begin CPR if the person has started to lose consciousness, is not breathing properly, or not showing basic human movement, for faster recovery.


Risk Factors of Heat Stroke

This complication is strongly related to the heat index. It is the measurement of how hot an individual feels when relative humidity and air temperature are put into consideration. Talking about the numbers, the humidity of 60% or more affects sweat evaporation and ultimately hampers the ability of the body to cool itself.

The high-risk individuals include elderly people, individuals who don’t consume enough fluids or individuals with high alcohol consumption. The risk of heat-related complications dramatically increases when the heat index crosses 90°F or more. Post 103°F, the situation becomes critical and the likelihood of heat stroke also increases.

Individuals living in densely populated urban regions with stagnant atmospheric conditions may be prone to heat-related complications where a phenomenon known as the “Heat island effect” comes into play. Herein, asphalt and concrete store the heat during the day and emit it gradually during the night, resulting in identical temperatures at both day and night.


Long-Term Effects

Some individuals experience serious organ damage or neurological dysfunction due to heatstroke. Periodic tests to monitor liver functioning and kidney functioning are recommended as heat stroke victims are more prone to developing chronic heart and kidney diseases.

Research states that excessive exposure to heat can alter blood and oxygen flow to the brain, leading to frequent fainting. Also, the blood-brain barrier starts to collapse, leading to the accumulation of unwanted ions and protein buildup in the brain, causing inflammation that ultimately hampers the regular day-to-day functioning of the brain.


Preventive Measures You Should Take

A very fundamental treatment to avoid heat stroke or heat-related illness is to stay indoors and maintain an ideal temperature. Also, wear loose-fitting clothes for better air circulation in the body. Take additional precautions when heading outdoors; add another liter of water to your daily fluid intake if a good proportion of your day is spent outdoors. Avoid eating hot meals; prefer eating the food at room temperature. Do consider salads, fruits and other vegetables.

© Copyright 2022 - Dr. B. Lal Clinical Laboratory Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.