About Heat Stroke: Causes
Working or exercising in hot weather without drinking enough fluids is the main cause of heat stroke. You can get heat stroke by not replacing lost fluids over days or weeks, or you can bring it on in a few hours by exercising strenuously on a hot day without drinking plenty of liquids first.
Liquid helps to cool us down by allowing the body to produce sweat. However, liquid is also necessary for bodily functions, such as keeping up blood pressure. You can lose large amounts without noticing any effects, but at a certain point the body will reserve the remaining fluid for vital functions, and stop sweating. The body's core temperature shoots up, and cells start dying.
Sweat evaporates more rapidly in dry weather, cooling the body more efficiently than in humid weather. When working in humid conditions, the core temperature rises more rapidly. This is why weather forecasts add a humidity heat factor to represent how you will actually feel outdoors.
People with the following conditions are especially prone to heat stroke:
- older age
- chronic illnesses like heart disease
- use of certain medicines such as diuretics and antihistamines
- use of some psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and cocaine