J Korean Med Assoc.  2021 Apr;64(4):296-302. 10.5124/jkma.2021.64.4.296.

Diagnosis and treatment of patients with heat-related illnesses

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Pusan National University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea

Abstract

Heat stress disorders or heat-related illnesses are a kind of physiological damage that occurs when the body cannot dissipate enough heat due to its thermoregulatory dysfunction. This paper aims to summarize the latest information on the diagnosis and treatment of heat-related illnesses. Heat stress disorders come in a variety of forms including heat edema, heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat tetany, severe heat exhaustion, and life-threatening heatstroke. Major risk factors may include excessive exercise, continuous exposure to high temperatures or humid environments, lack of acclimation, excessive clothing or protective equipment, obesity, and dehydration. Additional risk factors may include the patientʼs existing medical condition, environmental and personal factors, and the use of various drugs. Mild heat-related illnesses can be treated only by supportive care such as moving patients to a cool place and laying them in a supine position while elevating their legs and loosening their clothes. However, in the case of heatstroke, quickly lowering the body temperature is an essential in reducing the mortality rate. The most effective cooling method is to immerse the entire body in ice cold water.

Keyword

Heat stress disorders; Heat exhaustion; Heat stroke; Diagnosis; Treatment; 온열질환; 열탈진; 열사병; 진단; 치료
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