Sunstroke, or insolation, is a reaction of the body to a previously prolonged exposure to the unprotected head or neck. The cause of developing symptoms such as headache or nausea is mainly the heat transmitted by the sun's rays, which is accompanied by an increased irritation of the brain and especially of the meninges.
The sunstroke can also be described as isolated heat stroke of the head, this well expresses the underlying thermal component of the resulting symptoms. However, one differentiates the sunstroke from the heat stroke, which is certainly more dangerous and is accompanied by a complete increase in body temperature - this usually does not occur in sunstroke.
Through prolonged exposure, the heat transmitted by the sun, it comes in the context of a sunstroke to irritate the brain and the meninges. The unprotected head responds to heat with a widening of the blood vessels, the blood volume decreases apparently, as by Weitstellung, the blood-carrying space of the blood vessels becomes larger.
In addition to the irritation caused by heat, there is also a slight inflammatory reaction in the area of the brain and the meninges, which additionally justifies the painful symptoms of the sunstroke.
The long-assumed assumption that UV radiation would be the cause of the occurrence of a sunstroke was not provable as a trigger, so that today alone sees the increased heat stress of the head and neck area as a problem. Frequently affected by seemingly cooling measures, such as stay in the water or in high altitude regions during hikes not significantly exposed to the sun, yet here after a few hours can still impress the symptoms of a sunstroke.
The diagnosis of a sunstroke can be quite aggravating for the examiner, since the symptoms can often resemble a meningitis. Irritation of the meninges due to heat may be associated with neck stiffness, as in meningitis. Even symptoms such as nausea, headache, physical and mental restlessness confirm the overlap of the two clinical pictures.
At the beginning of all diagnostics is the first anamnesis, which includes the questions about the duration of the sunbathing and accompanying activities. The question of contact with possibly occurring in the environment cases of meningitis should not be missing here. Any tick bites should be included in the expertise. Therefore, it is important to exclude these two processes in order to avoid potentially reversible disease processes.
The first signs of a sunstroke are headache, sensitivity to light and noise. As a rule, the person affected can recognize the sun's radiation as the cause, because the temporal relationship between sunbathing and the first symptoms often appears to be appropriate in time and plausible.
Even a bright red head, feeling hot or dizzy may be the first signs of the onset of symptoms. Often, a certain internal restlessness or a ringing in the ears but also fatigue or drowsiness become observable as a sign of the sunstroke.
Since it is not always clear to the layman what these symptoms are because of these symptoms, and in some cases the symptoms only increase after a few hours, a doctor should be consulted. This will find diagnostic tools to exclude other potentially dangerous diseases and to treat quickly if needed.
Accompanying symptoms of a sunstroke can be nausea, vomiting as well as diarrhea. In addition to the first signs of sunstroke, the symptoms mentioned above may intensify but may not all be fully developed. In addition to the mentioned feeling of heat, fever is rarely observed.
If it is a particularly severe case of sunstroke, it is possible that a brain edema develops. This leads by water retention to increased pressure in the skull, which can bring so-called intracranial pressure mark. These are on the one hand the mentioned diffuse headache, nausea and vomiting - especially bubbly sober vomiting.
The duration of the corresponding symptoms can vary individually and depends on the duration of the sun exposure. Most of the symptoms start two to three hours after staying outdoors. Depending on how adequate the treatment is, headaches and nausea can last for more hours and be plaguing for the person affected. If there is no improvement and deterioration after a few hours and adequate fluid intake, as well as staying in the shade and cooling, a doctor should be consulted.
After one day, the previous symptoms should be alleviated or disappeared. Sufficient hydration and physical protection should have improved overnight. At most, it is possible for a feeling of fatigue and mild headaches to be left behind.
Definitely, adequate protection should be taken during the next sunbath, which is recommended below. If the symptoms described above persist after one day, a doctor should be consulted to prevent and treat more serious outcomes
Headaches are a major symptom of sunstroke and are often the first to be noticed. The heat transmitted by sunlight irritates the meninges, which are very heavily crossed with nerves and make themselves felt directly after an overstrain. In addition to headaches, radiating neck complaints are often described. Cooling by damp towels or cool pads can bring relief.
Nausea is another typical symptom of the sunstroke. The above-mentioned irritation of the meninges due to the increased heat load, irritates regions in the brain, which can cause nausea and vomiting. This may be favored by mild cerebral edema, ie increased water accumulation due to a mild inflammatory component of the sunstroke. Thus, it is not untypical that nausea and vomiting can occur as part of a sunstroke. If the nausea is too strong, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
In addition to the symptoms already described, diarrhea can also be part of the symptoms of a sunstroke. The physical stress caused by the heat causes an increased release of stress hormones, which also affect the gastrointestinal tract and bring about an increased intestinal activity. This leads to reduced water absorption of the intestine from the food to be digested. This then manifests itself in more fluid chairs than usual. It is important to ensure a sufficient fluid intake.
The distinction of the sunstroke from the heat stroke is also made due to the body temperature. Because only with a heat stroke it comes to the increase of the body core temperature, thus to the development of fever and further more serious consequences, as it brings the sunstroke with itself.
Should a fever develop on suspicion of a sunstroke, a doctor should definitely be consulted, because now a heat stroke but also, for example, a meningitis ( meningitis ) may be possible.
If there is a suspicion of a sunstroke, the causative factor, in this case the sun or warm surroundings, should be avoided. In addition, it is advisable to bring in a quiet environment to protect the body. It is also important to ensure adequate hydration. In addition, it may be helpful for the person concerned to put a cooling cloth on the neck and / or forehead.
In case of headache and nausea, you can also take appropriate medications, for headache, for example, ibuprofen or paracetamol. In case of nausea, so-called travel tablets (eg Vomex ® ) can be helpful.
If the symptoms persist for longer than one to two days or even get worse, a doctor should be consulted for further diagnostics and therapy to avoid more serious courses of events.
Known home remedies in addition to the direct leaving the hot environment, for example, are moist, cold towels that can be placed on the neck and / or head. If you use ice for cooling, you should always use a cloth to put it on to avoid direct contact with the skin to prevent frostbite. Furthermore, yogurt or quark envelopes can have a soothing effect. For the ideal hydration cold self-brewed but cooled teas can be used, to which you can add a pinch of salt and sugar. This is to prevent electrolyte loss by excessive sweating.
There are no drugs that are specifically directed against the sunstroke. Even preventive, nothing can be taken directly. The therapy consists, as in the section above, of a purely symptomatic therapy. A lack of fluid should be replenished by drinking, headaches can be combated, for example, by taking ibuprofen, eliminating nausea by the above-mentioned travel tablets. The diarrhea should be limited by itself after some time, this should only take in the worst case something.
Homeopathy in general can be a useful aid for one or the other, supporting other measures to achieve success in the treatment of sunstroke. Nevertheless, it is important to know that homeopathy has no greater benefit and success than a placebo. For homeopathic treatment for sunstroke are some substances recommended by the naturopath, which are available as globules or ointment, such as Bryonia alba, active ingredients of the white turnip, which is to help with headaches.
The duration of a sunstroke is designed individually for each individual and depends on the duration and intensity of the stay in the sun or heat. As a rule, the last symptoms attributable to the sunstroke should decline after two to three days. If the symptoms persist and show no improvement, a doctor should urgently be consulted. If severe neck stiffness, confusion or unconsciousness occurs, medical advice should also be obtained.
Children and infants are particularly at risk of getting a sunstroke, especially if they are playing outside for a while unattended and unprotected in the heat or sun. In addition, children often have not very pronounced head hair, which makes them additionally vulnerable to the sun and heat. Therefore, it is important from the beginning to protect children well from heat, for example by headgear but also by staying temporarily in a protected climate. Times with increasingly occurring heat as in the summer between 11 and 15 o'clock should rather be avoided.
In addition, care should be taken here to ensure adequate hydration of the child. Sufficient sun protection must be especially respected in the hotter months.
To prevent sunburn, avoid long stays in high heat or strong sun. If this is not possible, especially the head and neck should be well protected from direct heat. Sun hats or cloths are suitable for example.
Sufficient hydration is essential. As a general rule, the adult body needs at least a half to one liter more fluid per day due to increased sweating than on normally warm days. If excessive sweating occurs due to excessive heat, even more fluid should be considered.