Heatstroke

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Heatstroke (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Heatstroke is when your body severely overheats. Heatstroke happens when you do intense physical activity in hot conditions without drinking enough liquids. Normally, the body has a cooling system that is controlled by the brain. The cooling system adjusts to hot conditions and lowers your body temperature by producing sweat. With heatstroke, the body's cooling system is not working well and results in an increased body temperature.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Your condition may worsen if you are cooled down too rapidly or receive too much fluid. Without treatment, you may pass out or have a seizure. As your body temperature rises, your brain and other organs may become damaged. Heatstroke can lead to severe dehydration and organ failure. Organ failure is when your heart, liver, or kidneys cannot work properly due to lack of oxygen. Heatstroke is a serious, life-threatening condition.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Diet:

A dietitian or nutritionist may talk to you about diet changes. He may increase the amount of electrolytes, sugar, and proteins in your diet. He may also plan a diet that is best for you if you have other diseases, such as kidney or liver diseases. You may need to eat special foods to help your body work well after heatstroke.

A Foley catheter

is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

Medicines:

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.

  • Alkalinizing agents: These medicines, such as potassium and sodium bicarbonate, decrease the amount of acid in your blood and urine. This helps prevent organ damage.

  • Vasopressors: These medicines make your blood vessels contract and raise your blood pressure.

Monitoring:

  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

  • CVP line: A CVP line is also called a central line. It is an IV catheter or tube. It is put into a large blood vessel near your collarbone, in your neck, or in your groin. The groin is the area where your abdomen meets your upper leg. The CVP line may be used to give medicines or IV fluids. It may also be hooked up to a monitor to take pressure readings. This information helps caregivers check your heart.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your blood and urine are collected. These are sent to a lab for tests to check the levels of salts and minerals.

  • Blood gases: This is also called an arterial blood gas, or ABG. Blood is taken from an artery (blood vessel) in your wrist, arm, or groin. Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in it.

  • ECG: This is also called an EKG. This test records a short period of electrical activity in your heart. An ECG is done to check for damage or problems in your heart.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your head and brain. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell the caregiver if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.

  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure and function of your heart.

Treatments:

  • Cooling materials: Different types of cooling materials may be used to quickly decrease your body temperature, such as ice-soaked blankets.

  • Dialysis: You may need dialysis if you have kidney failure. Dialysis cleans your blood when your kidneys cannot. Extra water, chemicals, and waste products are removed from your blood by a dialysis machine. The dialysis machine does this by passing your blood through a special filter, then returning it back to you. Ask your caregiver for more information about dialysis.

  • Respiratory support:

    • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your caregiver before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

    • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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