Spectrum of Heat-Stroke

Heatwave, karachi heatwave

In previous article you read about the ways of preventing heat stroke. Now here are certain points for you to differentiate between severity of the heat illnesses.

Firstly, to avoid unnecessary panic, one needs to know about the spectrum of this heat illness because not all its forms will lead to death.

The spectrum in increasing severity includes: Heat cramps, Heat syncope, Heat exhaustion, Heat stroke.

Heatwave, heat stroke, Karachi heat wave


  • Occurs during heavy muscular work in high temperature
  • Painful spasmodic cramps of skeletal muscle. This is a very frequent complain that you might yourself have experienced, but we never link it to dehydration and instead take painkillers for it.
  • Body temperature may be normal or slightly increased
  • Water or fruit juice and salt (preferably ORS) should be given by mouth.
  • In severe cases give saline through intravenous route.


  • Fainting, “black outs,” or syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness followed by the return to full wakefulness


  • Patient may present with extreme paleness and sweating
  • numbness and tingling of hands and feet
  • dizziness, nausea and possible disturbance of vision.


  • Leave the patient in lying down position and loosen tight clothing.
  • Do not give anything by mouth when the patient is unconscious.
  • If still unconscious, call a doctor.
  • If a known diabetic person is feeling faint and gives history of no oral intake since 6-8 hours, immediately check blood sugar levels and give him candy or glucose.


It is characterized by giddiness and fainting followed by prolonged exposure to high temperature, sudden changes in posture, or exercise in hot weather. It is due to circulatory instability.


  • Normal body temperature.
  • Pale and clammy skin.
  • Profuse sweating, tiredness, weakness
  • Headache, dizziness and possible fainting.


  • Give sips if salt and water (one teaspoonful of salt per glass)
  • Lay him down and raise his feet. (8”-12”)
  • Loosen tight clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloth.
  • Use fan or A.C.

Heatwave, heat stroke, Karachi heat wave

The symptoms of heat syncope and heat exhaustion may seem to overlap however it is important to understand the difference in first aid management- if the person is unconscious then DO NOT GIVE ANYTHING BY MOUTH.


Occurs when a person usually without a head cover is exposed to radiant heat in the sun


  • Very high body temperature (107-110 F)
  • Skin hot, red and dry.
  • No sweating, rapid and strong pulse.
  • May be


  • Cool the body quickly by undressing and repeatedly sponging the bare skin with cool water.
  • Use fan or A.C.
  • Do not give stimulants.

If at any stage of the illness patient becomes unconscious and does not regain consciousness within few minutes then you should call a doctor or shift the person to the nearest hospital.

Please spread this knowledge as much as you can and play your part in saving someone’s life.



Heatwave in Karachi

Heatwave, karachi heatwave

Last year Pakistan witnessed the worst form of heat wave that took the lives of over a thousand people from all walks of life. Many zoo animals and countless agricultural livestock was also affected. It mostly affected the province of Sindh with temperatures soaring to as high as 50oC.  The former director general of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, claimed the heat wave was a symptom of global climate change, aggravated by deforestation, expansion of asphalt superhighways, and rapid urbanisation.

Heatwave, karachi heatwave

However, a common man who in any way suffered from this catastrophe, is not keen about knowing the reasons behind it, rather everyone wants to know how to prevent it and more importantly what to do if such an emergency arises. Yes indeed it is an emergency and it should be dealt like one too.

Here is an attempt to provide little awareness about how to save yourself from it and in the next part of the article I will present some signs and symptoms for you to recognize the severity of the diseases and what to do in such cases.



Age. Your ability to cope with extreme heat depends on the strength of your central nervous system. In the very young, the central nervous system is not fully developed, and in adults over 65, the central nervous system begins to deteriorate, which makes the body less able to cope with changes in body temperature. Both age groups also have difficulty to remain hydrated, which further increases the risk.

Exertion in hot weather. Military training and participating in sports, such as football, in hot weather are among the situations that can lead to heatstroke.

 Sudden exposure to hot weather. You may be more susceptible to heat-related illness if you’re exposed to a sudden increase in temperature, such as during an early-summer heat wave or travel to a hotter climate. Limit activity for at least several days to allow yourself to adjust to the change. However, you may still have an increased risk of heatstroke even if you’ve experienced several weeks of higher temperatures.

 Lack of air conditioning. Fans may make you feel better, but during sustained hot weather, air conditioning is the most effective way to cool down and lower humidity.

Heatwave, karachi heatwave


  • Avoid spending too much unnecessary time outdoors during daytime.
  • Drink water rather than tea, coffee, soda and alcoholic beverages. My personal advice would be to make oral rehydration solution (ORS) a part of your daily diet if you go outside during daytime regularly or at least three times a week if you mostly stay indoors.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved loose clothing.
  • Strenuous activities and exercise must be scheduled either at the beginning or end of the day, when the temperature is cooler.
  • Take bath at least twice a day or if there is water shortage then use wet towels to cover heads and spray water over body.
  • Whenever you go outside, always carry a bottle full of water to drink. You can also provide it to someone in the hour of need.
  • Remember to keep water for animals and birds outside as they too suffer from heat stroke.

 Heatwave, karachi heatwave