Heatstroke occurs when the human body is exposed to heat for too long, losing the function of regulating the body’s temperature. This results in heat exhaustion or heatstroke and can even lead one to pass out.
Heat exhaustion is a mild version of heatstroke. Its symptoms include feeling exhausted, lacking in energy, nausea, and vomiting. The body will sweat a lot and the body temperature will rise slightly, but it will not exceed 104°F.
If a person passes out from heatstroke, it is actually a dangerous and critical situation. If this happens, the body’s ability to regulate its temperature has gone completely offline, and the body temperature will continue to rise. It may exceed 104°F. A person will lose consciousness and most probably will be comatose, becoming drowsy and even unable to wake up. As soon as this happens, immediate emergency medical treatment is required.
It is not just humans that suffer from heatstroke; our pets can also be very easily affected. Dog breeds such as French bulldogs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, pugs, and other breeds with broad heads and short noses have more difficulty getting enough oxygen on exertion and are therefore more prone to heatstroke, since dogs need to pant to cool down as they don’t sweat like humans. Vulnerable animals include those that are on medication, overweight, or elderly.
How to tell if you have heatstroke
Signs and symptoms of heatstroke are similar to those of influenza — you may feel dizzy and have a fever. So how do you tell the two apart? Look in a mirror and use your nails or the back of your fingers to lightly scrape or pinch the skin in the middle of the two eyebrows. If it leaves a dark spot or a red mark like a rash, it is most likely heatstroke.
How to tell if your pet has heatstroke
The signs and symptoms in dogs are similar to those in humans, but there are some notable signs to watch out for.
Symptoms in pets include: drooling, drowsiness, panting excessively, staggering about, vomiting, and collapse. Any of these symptoms means you must act quickly to cool the animal down and get them to the vet quickly for treatment.
Apply ice quickly
If you experience uncomfortable symptoms after prolonged exposure in a high-temperature environment, first, move to a cool place such as in the shade of a tree or indoors. If your speech is normal and you are mentally alert, you should quickly drink some low-concentration saline or sports drinks with water to avoid dehydration.
However, if you are unable to speak normally, it is severe heatstroke and the body temperature should be quickly lowered.
The first step is to get to a cooler place as soon as possible, and take off unnecessary clothes and anything that increase the body temperature.
Next, apply water to moisten the body to help cool down the core body temperature with evaporation. Then put an ice pack or cold towel on the neck, armpits, and groin. These three areas are closer to the body center and key areas of dissipating heat.
After doing these things, you should dial the emergency number for further medical assistance.
Your pet can be treated in a similar way by giving them cool water to drink and wetting them with cool (not ice) water, taking them inside to a cool room, and getting them to the vet straight away. Sadly, without avoiding the external conditions for heatstroke or prompt treatment, one in seven dogs with heatstroke is likely to die from it.
Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Helen