How To Treat Heat Stroke (Sunstroke) At Home April 20, 2017

The scorching summer Sun can cause a heat stroke even in a healthy person. The heat just seems to suck away all your energy, making you feel weak and lethargic. Extreme dehydration can occur, and this heat stroke can easily progress into an illness that lasts longer than required. If you or anybody you know suffers from a heat stroke, use the remedies mentioned in this article for quick relief.

A heat stroke is also called sunstroke and is quite common during the summer months. It is important to understand the cause of this and also know how to identify the signs and symptoms. This way you can choose the right remedy for its treatment.

Hence, before delving into the home treatment solutions for a heat stroke, let’s examine the causes and symptoms.

What Causes Heat Stroke?

The fluids in our body are responsible for maintaining the body’s temperature during the hot weather conditions. The body sweats to release the excess heat and cool down when it is exposed to heat for a longer duration. When the body loses sufficient fluids (hydration), we experience dehydration and heat stroke. This heat exhaustion can easily progress to a life-threatening condition wherein the body temperature can rise up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and cause neurological damage. A heat stroke can happen due to two reasons-

  • Exertion of the body in hot weather conditions, for example, playing a sport in the heat for many hours
  • Older people, children, and people with illnesses usually have trouble regulating their body temperature. They may suffer heat stroke on exposure to high temperatures, even without any physical activity (1, 2).

Heat stroke can be tackled easily by paying attention to the following symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms Of Heat Stroke

Few warning signs indicate the onset of a heat stroke. These are as given below –

  • High body temperature (104 degrees Fahrenheit and above)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and weakness
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing and increased heart rate
  • Muscle cramps and abdominal cramps
  • Lack of sweat or sweating heavily

Heat stroke starts after these warning signs appear and the symptoms of this are usually neurological. The patient may experience –

  • Irritability
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Bizarre behavioral changes
  • Seizures

A heat stroke can even progress to coma. Hence, these signs and symptoms should not be ignored and should be dealt with as soon as possible (1, 3). Here are the best remedies that you can use to treat heat stroke and alleviate the signs and symptoms.

How To Treat Heat Stroke

  1. Buttermilk
  2. Cold Bath
  3. Chinese Medicine
  4. Essential Oils
  5. Onion Juice
  6. Tamarind Juice
  7. Coriander Water
  8. Apple Cider Vinegar
  9. Sandalwood Paste

1. Buttermilk For Heat Stroke

1. Buttermilk For Heat Stroke

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You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • A glass of water
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of cumin powder (optional)
What You Have To Do
  1. Blend the yogurt with water.
  2. Add salt and cumin powder, and mix well.
  3. Drink this chilled.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink 1-2 glasses of buttermilk every day during summers.

Why This Works

With water as its main constituent, this refreshing drink hydrates and cools down the body. It also contains probiotics, proteins, minerals, and vitamins that replenish the body’s requirements for these (4).

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2. Cold Bath For Heat Stroke

2. Cold Bath For Heat Stroke

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You Will Need
  • Cold water
  • Bathtub
What You Have To Do

Soak in a bathtub full of cool water and stay in there for 15-20 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

This is a first-aid remedy and can be used before the patient can be taken to the hospital for treatment.

Why This Works

This treatment is recommended by specialists in the case of heat stroke due to exertion. The coolness of the water helps to lower the entire body temperature, which has shot up due to heat stroke (5).

Caution

Do not use ice-cold water as this may drop your body temperature drastically and cause further complications.

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3. Chinese Medicine For Heat Stroke

3. Chinese Medicine For Heat Stroke

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You Will Need
  • 1 cup dried mung beans
  • 3 cups water
What You Have To Do
  1. Boil the mung beans and strain the liquid obtained.
  2. Let it cool down and then, drink this.
How Often You Should Do This

Use this remedy as and when required.

Why This Works

Even though the mung beans originated in India, they are now grown all over the world and often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat heat stroke. Boiling mung beans gives a nutritive tonic that hydrates the body and also lowers the body temperature. This is because mung beans are antipyretic in nature. This drink is also great for detoxifying the body (6).

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4. Essential Oils For Heat Stroke

4. Essential Oils For Heat Stroke

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You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops peppermint oil
  • 1-2 drops lavender oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or almond oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix both the essential oils with a carrier oil.
  2. Apply this oil blend on the back of the neck, on your soles, and inside your wrists.
How Often You Should Do This

Apply this once as the body temperature starts to rise.

Why This Works

Lavender oil is soothing on the sunburnt skin and also for the nerves (7). Peppermint oil exerts a cooling effect on the body and helps to lower the increased body temperature (8).

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5. Onion Juice For Heat Stroke

5. Onion Juice For Heat Stroke

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • Onion juice
  • Honey
What You Have To Do

There are two ways to use onion juice for heat stroke –

  1. After an attack, apply onion juice behind the ears, under the feet, and on your chest. Leave it on.
  2. After the heat stroke symptoms are gone, drink a teaspoon of onion juice mixed with a teaspoon of honey.
How Often You Should Do This

The onion juice application is just once during the stroke, whereas you can drink the onion-honey mix twice a day for a few days after the sun stroke.

Why This Works

Onion juice is known to alleviate the symptoms of heat stroke (9). Its exact mechanism of action is, however, not known.

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6. Tamarind Juice

6. Tamarind Juice

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • Few tamarind pieces
  • 1-1 1/2 glasses water
  • A pinch of sugar or honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Boil the tamarind for a few minutes.
  2. Strain this liquid and add sugar or honey for taste.
  3. Drink this herbal concoction once it has cooled down.
How Often You Should Do This

Use this remedy as soon as the symptoms start to appear.

Why This Works

Tamarind is known to cool down the body while supplying essential nutrients and electrolytes depleted by dehydration (10).

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7. Coriander Water

7. Coriander Water

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • A bunch of coriander
  • A pinch of sugar
What You Have To Do
  1. Extract coriander juice by blending the leaves with some water.
  2.  Add some sugar to this and mix well.
  3. Cool it in the refrigerator for a few minutes and drink this.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink a glass of this juice during the heat stroke.

Why This Works

Coriander is cooling for the body. It removes the excess heat and also gets rid of nausea and vomiting (11).

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8. Apple Cider Vinegar

8. Apple Cider Vinegar

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • A glass of cool water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix the vinegar in water and drink this.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink this if you feel dizzy or weak after a walk in the Sun.

Why This Works

ACV contains minerals and vitamins that help to quickly replenish the body’s lost electrolytes (12).

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9. Sandalwood Paste

9. Sandalwood Paste

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 3-4 tablespoons sandalwood powder
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Make a thin paste with the sandalwood powder.
  2. Apply this on the forehead and chest.
  3. Leave it on for an hour or so.

If you do not have sandalwood powder at home, you can also use sandalwood oil and apply on the areas mentioned above.

How Often You Should Do This

Applying this once will greatly help to reduce heat stroke symptoms.

Why This Works

Sandalwood brings down the body temperature with its cooling properties (13).

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Nausea, weakness, dizziness and increased body temperature during heat stroke are definitely not pleasant. Treat them with these remedies as soon as possible and get rid of them in a short span of time. The main aim of these remedies is to cool down the body and replenish the depleted water and electrolytes. Here are some tips for you to prevent heat stroke.

Tips & Precautions For Heat Stroke

  • Always cover your head with a scarf, a hat or an umbrella when stepping out in the Sun.
  • Drink ample amount of water, especially during the summer months. Water will keep your body hydrated and its temperature cool. Carry around a water bottle!
  • Drink lemonade or buttermilk to keep the excess body heat at bay.
  • Wear loose-fitting and absorbent clothes during hot and humid weather conditions.
  • Opt for light-colored clothing during the hot summers as they absorb lesser heat.
  • Do not exert yourself when outside in the Sun. Follow a simple schedule to maintain your energy and keep yourself hydrated during the outdoor workout or game.
  • Sleep 6-8 hours every day and eat a balanced, healthy diet. This will ensure that your body is well rested and has the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and proteins for healthy functioning.

We have answered some frequently asked questions for you below. We hope these will clear all your doubts.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Heat Stroke Vs Heat Exhaustion

The warning signs of heat stroke listed at the beginning of this article, such as nausea, weakness, dizziness, and cramps, are all symptoms of Heat Exhaustion too. When these symptoms are not taken care of and treated, you will suffer a heat stroke.

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Heat Stroke?

  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Organ failure
  • Miscarriage in pregnant women
  • Long term changes in the person’s personality traits
  • Heart failure
  • Death

Foods To Avoid To Prevent Heat Stroke

  • Fried food
  • Spices that increase body temperatures like cayenne, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, and ginger
  • Vegetables that are warm for the body such as horseradish, radish, and mustard greens
  • Cured meats
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine through tea, coffee, and chocolate

What Is The First Aid Treatment For Heat Stroke?

After calling emergency medical services, follow this simple first aid routine –

  • Make the person lie down in a cool place.
  • Remove all the unnecessary clothing so that maximum surface area of the skin is exposed to the cool air.
  • Spray cool water all over the body. You can also place ice packs at the back of the neck, on the palms, and on the soles.
  • Keep checking the rectal temperature, as mouth or ear temperatures are not considered as accurate in such situations. The body temperature should be brought down to 102oF (39oC).
  • Give the person cool fluids such as lemonade, buttermilk, coconut water or even plain water, and let them keep sipping it.Do not give aspirin or any similar anti-fever medicine (14).

What Is The Recovery Time For Heat Stroke?

Once admitted to the hospital, it takes 1-2 days to recover from a heat stroke initially. Complete recovery can take longer depending on how severe the symptoms were and how quickly the first-aid and treatment was administered.

At What Temperature Does Heat Stroke Occur?

When the heat exhaustion leads to a rise in body temperature to 104oF and/or above, it is considered as a heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion symptoms can lead to severe outcomes if not treated immediately. Make sure it doesn’t turn to a heat stroke by using simple home treatment solutions given in this article.

Bookmark this article so you could use it in case you or your loved ones suffer a heat stroke.

Take care and stay safe in the Sun!

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Kushneet Kukreja