Brits urged to watch out for symptoms of heatstroke as temperatures top 30 degrees

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Wednesday 27th July 2022

Brits have been urged to watch out for symptoms of heatstroke and exhaustion, as temperatures reach over 30 degrees. 

Across parts of England, temperatures have soared to over 30 degrees, with several days of bright sunshine and blue skies expected in the coming fortnight. In the South East and London, the mercury rose to 33 degrees earlier this week. Although it will be slightly cooler between the 13th and 15th July, temperatures could peak at over 35 degrees over the coming weekend and during the start of the week commencing 18th July. 

With hot days and warm, still nights predicted for most of England in the days ahead, health experts have issued advice to help people to stay cool and avoid heatstroke, sunburn and exhaustion. Heat health warnings have been issued in most parts of England up to July 15th and then from the 17th to 20th July. 

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body struggles to cope with excessive heat. The main symptoms include tiredness, feeling lethargic, sweating more than usual, clammy skin, feeling dizzy or faint, experiencing muscle cramps, fever, loss of appetite and nausea and/or vomiting. These symptoms develop as a result of the body trying to cool down as quickly as possible. Anyone can get symptoms of heat exhaustion, including fit and healthy people. It is particularly common to experience heat exhaustion if you have been exercising or drinking alcohol, due to an increased risk of dehydration. 
Signs of heat exhaustion can come on suddenly or develop slowly over the course of a few hours or a day. In children, symptoms also include becoming floppy and increasingly tired and lethargic.
Heat exhaustion can usually be managed and treated relatively easily with self-help techniques, including getting out of direct sunlight and sitting in a cool place, drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and resting. 

The main danger of heat exhaustion is that it can develop into heatstroke, which causes more severe symptoms. Heatstroke can be a medical emergency, which requires urgent assistance. Symptoms include a temperature of over 40 degrees, fast breathing, shortness of breath, not sweating even when feeling very hot, confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness. It is particularly important to seek expert advice if an individual has symptoms after 30 minutes or more of sitting in a cold place and drinking fluids. 

Young children, the elderly and people who have underlying and chronic health conditions are more vulnerable to heatstroke. In children, the mechanisms for cooling the body down are not fully developed, which increases the risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

With temperatures expected to be higher than average for some time across large parts of the UK in July, experts are advising people to stay out of the sun, check in on elderly neighbours, keep young children cool and be mindful of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. 

The first thing to do when somebody has symptoms of heat exhaustion is to move to a cool space, such as a room with air conditioning or an area out of the sun. Removing clothing, fanning them and spraying the skin with cold water or using a damp cloth or sponge to cool the skin are also beneficial. Hydration is key, as the body loses fluids through sweating. Most people who have heat exhaustion will start to feel better within 30 minutes of taking these steps. If symptoms persist or get worse, seek urgent help. 

To prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke, NHS guidelines recommend staying indoors, wearing light, comfortable clothing, drinking cold drinks, avoiding exercise during the hottest part of the day, taking cold showers and avoiding alcohol.