Heatstroke often occurs rapidly, resulting in unconsciousness within a few minutes, although there is sometimes a warning period when the casualty may complain of feeling unwell or strange. It occurs when the brain’s ‘thermostat’ fails as a result of prolonged exposure to high temperature in the surroundings or of illness with high fever.
Symptoms of heatstroke
- Dizziness, headache, discomfort, unease and confusion.
- The skin will feel hot and dry and appear flushed.
- The pulse will be fast and strong.
- The casualty may collapse and become unconscious.
Treatment of heatstroke
- Remove the casualty quickly to a cool place and remove the outer clothing. Summon medical help immediately.
- Wrap the casualty in a sheet and keep it wet until the oral temperature falls to 38°C (IOOAOF).
- When the temperature has returned to a safe level, remove the wet sheet and substitute it with a dry one. Keep a close watch on the casualty, and be prepared to repeat step 2 if the temperature rises again.
- If the casualty becomes unconscious, place him or her in the- recovery position and be prepared to resuscitate. Call an ambulance immediately
Hyperglycemia – ohio medical corporation
In hyperglycemia, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to prevent excessive levels of sugar in the blood. Once diagnosed, diabetics will be able to prevent hyperglycemia by balancing their dietary intake of sugar and by regular insulin injections. Occasionally, hyperglycemia can cause unconsciousness, but the condition generally develops gradually over a period of days or weeks. The symptoms of hyperglycemic coma are as follows:
- Dry skin.
- Faint smell of acetone (similar to nail varnish remover or mown grass) on the breath.
- Rapid pulses.
- Deep, labored breathing
Poisoning – ohio medical corporation
By poison, we mean a substance that, if it enters the body, can exert harmful effects, permanent or temporary. The routes by which a poison may enter the body are as follows:
- Swallowing: may be accidental or deliberate (overdose) and includes a wide variety of substances from alcohol and illicit drugs to household cleaners or plants.
- Inhalation: this can be of gases, such as carbon monoxide, as well as solvents and vapors.
- Skin absorption: pesticides and insecticides may be absorbed in this way and particularly strong chemicals may also cause burns.
- Injection into the skin: this includes venom, such as that injected by snakes and insects, and also illicit drugs injected by abusers.
Detailed instruction on the treatment of specific types of poisoning is out with the scope of this book, but in general the following steps should be taken:
- Remove the casualty from the scene of danger but ensure that your own safety is not compromised in the case of gas or smoke or chemical spillage.
- Try to obtain an accurate history of the poisoning incident. If possible, find out exactly what the substance was, how much has been ingested and how much time has elapsed since.
- Obtain medical assistance immediately. Never attempt to make the casualty vomit as this may cause further damage to the gastro-intestinal tract and may even cause the casualty to inhale the vomit.
- Place an unconscious casualty in the recovery position and monitor his or her breathing and circulation. If the patient’s condition deteriorates then you must be prepared to resuscitate. Try to protect your mouth against any residual poison or chemicals on the patient’s lips if you have to give mouth-to-mouth ventilation.
- Send specimens of the toxin to the hospital with the casualty, if possible, as well as vomit specimens. This will help in identification of the toxin and the amount ingested.
Shock – ohio medical corporation
When referred to in medical emergency, shock is taken to signify a life-threatening condition caused by the failure of the circulatory system to pump blood around the body. Internal and external bleeding can cause this, as can a heart attack, anaphylactic shock and excessive loss of body fluids such as occurs in diarrhea or severe burns. The body tries to maximize the use of remaining body fluids by withdrawing them from the surface and extremities of the body to the centre of the body.
This can progressively produce the following symptoms:
- The casualty’s skin becomes cold, grey and clammy as the body attempts to divert blood supplies to the vital organs.
- The pulse becomes rapid as the heart works harder to circulate the reduced volume of blood.
- The pulse becomes weaker and may become irregular as the blood volume and pressure fall.
- The casualty becomes weak and giddy as oxygen fails to reach the muscles and brain.
- The casualty’s breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and he may appear to be attempting to yawn or gulp in air (‘air hunger’).
- The casualty may complain of nausea and actually vomit.
- The casualty may experience thirst as the brain senses that the body needs to make up a shortfall in fluid.
- The casualty may become restless and agitated as the oxygen supply to the brain deteriorates.
- The casualty will lose consciousness, and the pulse at the wrist may become un- palpable.
- The heart will stop.
It is vital to identify and treat the causes of shock immediately. Always summon medical help at the earliest possible opportunity, but it may be possible to slow the progression of shock by taking prompt action to stop bleeding from an open wound.