Heat Stroke ~ The Philippine Mountaineering

Heat Stroke

Forbid Heat Stroke
This month of April is considered as the hottest month of the year, a lot of news focused on this matter. Last March 19 of this year, there's report of 2 US soldiers who're part of the “Balikatan exercises” suffered from heat stroke.  Recently, an inmate in Ilocos province suffered death due to heat stroke. The mountaineering community doesn't have yet reliable data pertaining to this illness. But the fact is, as we climb, we are too expose to the direct sunlight- a condition that invites the tendency for heat stroke. 

Experiencing hot summer is common in the country; there were lots of high temperature records of the country. Based on PAG-ASA’s data, Tuguegarao holds the record for the hottest temperature in the Philippine history, which was 42.2 degrees Celsius in May 1969. In Metro Manila, the highest temperature was 38.5 degrees Celsius recorded on May 14, 1987. Temperatures in Luzon and Metro Manila range from 24 to 36 degrees Celsius. Baguio City known as the "summer capital” due to its cold weather condition recorded the warmest weather this year with 28.2 degrees Celsius last April 13. According to PAG-ASA, Metro Manila experienced the temperature of 35.3 degree Celsius last April 12 as the highest recorded temperature for this year.  

photo courtesy of google images
This post's purpose is to educate the mountaineering community issues on heat stroke and to offer the best possible prevention and solution for the said illness. As popular definition, Heat stroke is defined as a body temperature of greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) due to environmental heat exposure. This is an illness relating to the body’s inability to cope with heat. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as heatstroke or sun stroke. Severe hyperthermia is defined as a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher. This state is distinct from a fever, where there is a physiological increase in the temperature set point of the body. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated and the stage of cooling the victim is a critical step in the treatment of heat strokeThe body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises, sometimes up to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher. Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.

We mountaineers are one of the most susceptible (at risk) individuals to heat strokes due to our activity outdoor and we physically exert under the sun for many hours.

The extreme symptom of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before progressing to heat strokes.  Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heatstroke. The notable symptoms and signs of heat stroke are vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and aches and dizziness. In some cases, some individuals developed symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning.

If we will be with an individual experiencing heat stroke must act immediately and properly to avoid permanent organ damage to victim's body. The immediate thing we can do is to cool the victim. We have to transfer the victim to a well ventilated area, loosen tight clothing, apply cool or tap water to the skin, and fan the victim to cool of the body, place cold packs under armpits and groins. Monitor body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees.

photo courtesy of google images
To stop climbing this summer is NOT the best measure to prevent heat stroke. We have to be prepared enough to prevent heat strokes. As mountaineers, we have to avoid from becoming dehydrated in hot and humid weather. We have drink plenty of fluids (such as water), but avoid alcohol, coffee, and tea which may lead to dehydration. Take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself. Wear hats, light colored, and light cotton - loose clothing.

May we all experience the grandness of the Philippine mountains in bliss.    

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