Be careful with heat strokes in the old age!
Heat strokes are always dangerous. But they can be even more hazardous among the old people, since they are probably the most vulnerable group together with children.
Every summer there are several deaths related to the high temperatures and a long exposure to the sun. And, indeed, most of those victims are older than 65 years old. Therefore, it is on this risk group that we need to focus our attention in order to prevent our old people from suffering massive damages due to the heat.
Today, we want to show you why the heat strokes are more dangerous among the elderly people than among other groups of age, how to prevent the heat from hitting on them and what to do in case they started to feel the first symptoms of a heat stroke.
What is a heat stroke?
The normal body temperature is around 37oC and every small change in that constant value can cause big damage to the organism, hindering the good functioning of many systems that need that regular temperature to properly work.
In order to keep that body temperature steady, the organism has its own mechanisms, like the sweat, responsible for spreading out the heat and preventing the body from failing due to the high temperatures.
But, sometimes, when the heat hits too strong for an extended period of time, these body mechanisms can fail to do their function, allowing the body temperature to sharply rise in a few minutes.
When this happens, the patient usually suffers from sickness, dizziness, lack of sweat, dehydration, head ache, fever and an accelerated heartbeat. Furthermore, in some extreme cases, heat strokes can also cause vomit, breathing problems and the loss of consciousness.
Why are old people more vulnerable to the heat?
People older than 65 years old are less able to feel the temperature and thirst, so their body is also less able to take the appropriate measures to face temperature changes and dehydration.
Additionally, old people are more prone to suffer from chronic diseases and, therefore, they usually consume more medicines, making their organism less stable than the younger and healthy ones.
What is more, some of the symptoms of the heat stroke like fatigue or the lack of sweat, when they happen, they areusually attributed to the age, so no early response is taken. Thus, when the symptoms get worse and they realise it is not the age but a heat stroke what caused them, it sometimes is too late.
This is even more dangerous among people who suffer heart or respiratory diseases, since symptoms can get even worse than normal. People with cognitive deterioration are also a highly risk group, since it might be so difficult for them to identify heat stroke symptoms and to put them into words.
Preventing heat strokes in old people
So, we now know what heat strokes are and why old people are more vulnerable to them. Then, what can we do to prevent the extreme heat to put our elders in danger?
The most important of all is to not allow old people to go out during the hours when the sun is more intense. In summer, it is always better to spend time in airy and fresh indoor places. They will have time to go outside later, when it is not that hot. However, if they had to get exposed to the intense sun of noon, do not leave them alone and always make them wear light clothes and cover their heads with a hat or a cap.
Likewise, do not let them do intense physical activity and make sure they are constantly hydrating themselves, even if they do not feel thirsty. Cold non-alcoholic and caffeine-free drinks are the best to keep them fresh and well hydrated at any time.
Cold and fresh showers or baths are also good options. If the heat is intense, cooling off with some fresh water will help to avoid being hit by a sudden heat stroke.
And, above all, if they sleep and rest as much as they should, they will increase their organism’s ability to respond to sudden body temperature changes.
What should you do if an old person around you suffered a heat stroke?
Take him immediately to a shaded place and call emergencies. While you wait the medical service to come, provide the patient with an environment as fresh and airy as you can. Use a fan or air conditioning if needed.
It is essential to lower the body temperature of the affected person, so use cold water for it. You can put him into a cold-water bath if you can, but, if you are not at home, use a cold sponge to moisten the patient’s body.
When the emergency service arrives, they will take care of the patient and make sure he swiftly recovers.
That is Clinica Excelan’s raison d’être. We are always looking after you and your beloved ones to keep you healthy. So, if you or someone around you suffered a heat stroke, call us! We will immediately send a skilled doctor who will give the best care to the affected person.
As the best private GP centre in Marbella and Costa del Sol, we provide all kind of medical services to locals, tourists and expats. So, whatever the language you use to speak to us, we will make sure there is always an English-speaking doctor or any other specialist of our highly multilingual staff to take care of you. That is how we can guarantee our top-quality care.
Was this post useful? If it was, come back next week to receive new medical advices to stay healthy this summer. We also invite you to visit our website and follow us on our social media to know about our wide range of medical services.