Sunstroke occurs when the body becomes overheated through overexposure to the sun and the brain cannot control the cooling process of the body. It is different from and more dangerous than heat stroke. Both conditions cause confusion, light-headedness and fatigue, and shade and cool water on the skin helps. However, it is much more serious as the body can control heat exhaustion somewhat by spreading blood flow to the extremities, but it can't control the effects of sunstroke and it requires immediate medical help.
Sunstroke victims have characteristically hot and dry skin as well as a rapid pulse. They may lose consciousness as the brain fights to regulate the body's temperature, but can't. Sunstroke victims always need medical help as soon as possible. Medical professionals need to be sure that it is sunstroke they are dealing with and will need to lower the body temperature safely as well as monitor fluid intake.
Quick breathing, headache and muscle ache may occur along with the hot, dry skin and rapid pulse in cases of sunstroke. The victim may have slurred speech and be in a state of confusion that may even cause them to lash out violently. These symptoms may progress to hallucinations and a lack of consciousness.
Preventive precautions to avoid this condition should be taken whenever possible. When temperatures are high, don't plan to spend a long time in the sun. Expending a lot of physical energy in the sun for prolonged periods can cause sunstroke to occur even faster. Be sure to always have cold water to drink and splash on the skin and to spend some resting time in the shade. Working in the early morning before the sun is at its hottest is a great idea if possible.
Those with health issues as well as the very young, very old and overweight people are often especially susceptible to sunstroke and should avoid spending too much time in the sun. If staying indoors or somewhere cool is not an option, light colored, loose clothing and a wide-brimmed hat should be worn and water should be consumed regularly. It’s important to drink water on hot days even when you don’t feel thirsty, as it helps your body stay cooler longer.