Kids enjoy summer with a break from school, adults often take time off from work, and the weather encourages everyone to get outside and soak up the sun. But the same enjoyable weather can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken.
Time outdoors can be delightful but it can also prove deadly. One of the more overlooked health risks each summer is heat stroke, particularly among athletes. University of North Carolina professor Frederick O. Mueller, in his Annual Survey of Football Injuries, cites 33 heat stroke-related deaths between 1995 and 2008. Most notable among those was the late Korey Stringer, an American football player who died from complications of heat stroke in 2001 during training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.
Stringer’s death helped shed light on heat stroke, though it might have also given the false impression that heat stroke can only be suffered by those physically exerting themselves in summer heat. But anyone can fall victim to heat stroke, highlighting the importance of understanding heat stroke before it is too late.
What Is Heat Stroke?
A form of hyperthermia, heat stroke occurs when body temperature is abnormally elevated and is accompanied by physical and neurological symptoms. Heat stroke is a genuine medical emergency, one that requires prompt treatment to avoid fatal consequences.
Why Does Body Temperature Rise?
Heat stroke can be confusing, especially for those who spend ample time outdoors when temperatures are hot. A person might be used to summer heat and all of a sudden suffer heat stroke. This leaves many questioning why body temperature rises during heat stroke. This is easily explained.
Normally, the human body generates heat through metabolism and is often capable of dispersing this heat either through radiation of heat through the skin or through evaporation of sweat. However, during periods of extreme heat or when a person is vigorously exerting themselves under the sun, the body might experience difficulty dispersing the heat it generates. This results in rising body temperature.
Another reason body temperature might rise is dehydration. When dehydrated, the body might not be able to sweat fast enough to disperse heat, again resulting in elevated body temperature.
Who Is Most Susceptible to Heat Stroke?
Thanks in large part to deaths of athletes that are heavily publicized, many people assume athletes are most susceptible to heat stroke. While athletes increase their risk of heat stroke whenever exercising in extreme heat, others are at risk for heat stroke as well.

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