Sunstroke (or sunstroke ) is a pathological situation that results from prolonged exposure of the body to sunlight .

In most cases, insolation occurs during the particularly hot days of the summer period.

Sunstroke represents a dangerous situation for the body and, as such, it should not be underestimated. The first signs that should lead to run for cover are: headache , a strong sense of nausea, dizziness and exhaustion .

In general, the advice is not to go to the sun in the central hours of the day (11-16), completely avoiding exposure when the days are very hot, especially if the relative humidity is high and the ventilation is absent ( i.e. in the presence of afa).



Sunstroke or Sunstroke: how does it manifest itself?

Sunstroke represents a danger to the body and, as such, it should not be underestimated.

The most common symptoms of sunstroke are:

  • Restlessness (agitation and inconsolable crying in children);
  • Fatigue and a feeling of general malaise;
  • Warm skin to the touch;
  • Severe severe headache (often localized to the forehead);
  • Increased sweating;
  • Dizziness.

In more serious cases of sunstroke, the following may appear:

  • Diffuse erythema on the parts exposed to the sun, with the formation of blisters , itching and burning sensation on the skin;
  • Red eyes , profuse tearing and light discomfort ;
  • Nausea and vomiting ;
  • Fever and chills
  • Convulsions.

In cases where there is a marked lowering of blood pressure levels , sunstroke can cause fainting.

Causes and Risk Factors

Colpo di Sole: what are the causes?

Sunstroke is caused by an increase in body temperature , which occurs following excessive and prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Risk factors

Sunstroke is more frequent on summer days.

The decisive environmental conditions are:

  • High outside temperature;
  • Increased relative humidity (hinders the evaporation of sweat );
  • No or reduced ventilation.

Insolation can also occur in the mountains, where temperatures are lower, but the sun's irradiation is intense. Inadequate protection (beach umbrella, hat with brim, sunscreen, etc.) and dehydration can contribute to aggravating the sun .



Colpo di Sole: what is it?

Sunstroke is a set of disorders that arise after direct, excessive and prolonged exposure to the sun's rays of the body. This is a serious occurrence, as the effects of their ultraviolet (UVB and UVA) and infrared radiations on the surface of the head and on the cerebral vessels are added to the action of heat on the whole organism, which manifest themselves with headache and dizziness. , followed by more severe symptoms, such as general malaise, nausea and convulsions , up to confusion and loss of consciousness .

Did you know that…

Sunstroke can be associated with sunburn on the skin or head.

Insolation - who is it more dangerous for?

Sunstroke can affect all age groups, but it can become very dangerous for children and the elderly .

To know

With the heat, the risk of dehydration also increases : the body loses considerable quantities of water and mineral salts through profuse sweating, without adequate consumption of liquids to replenish this depletion. The main symptoms of dehydration are intense thirst , weakness, dizziness, palpitations , muscle cramps and low blood pressure.


Colpo di Sole: how long does it last?

The duration of the sun is variable.

If sunstroke is treated promptly: some symptoms may disappear within hours (such as headache, dizziness, fever and chills ), others may last for days, such as sunburn or sunburn .

What to do

The interventions to be implemented in the event of sunstroke are directly proportional to the extent of the event.

If those affected by sunstroke:

  • He experiences headaches and exhaustion: it is possible to implement first aid measures (accompany the person to a cool place, leave him lying down and do sponging with fresh, not frozen water);
  • Faint: you need to provide first aid and call 118 immediately.

Difference between insolation and heat stroke

Sunstroke and heat stroke are often used interchangeably. In reality, the substantial differences between the two pathological conditions, at the same high external temperature (starting from 30-35 ° C), is represented by the humidity rate of the environment greater than 60-70% and by the reduced ventilation.

Heatstroke is in fact due to an increase in body temperature due to the hot climate and saturated with humidity that do not allow adequate dispersion of body heat through thermoregulation . In practice, the body absorbs more heat than it is able to give it to the outside with diaphoresis and this leads to an increase in the internal temperature. Therefore, weakness, lowering of blood pressure , nausea and vomiting , cramps, dizziness, intense thirst , loss of alertness and disorientation occur. In severe cases, it can lead to convulsions and coma .


The effect of congestion of the cerebral vessels from sunstroke is recognized by the sense of heaviness in the head, pain in the nape, stiffness in the neck and confusion. Other characteristic signs of sunstroke are dizziness and vertigo. The person affected by the sunstroke typically feels confused and lightheaded.

Signs to watch out for

To avoid the most negative effects of sunburn, it is essential to understand (or recognize in those around us) the first warning signs. The person affected by sunstroke typically feels confused and complains of severe pain in the head. At the same time, restlessness, malaise, rapid heart rate, warm skin to the touch, excessive sweating and dizziness occur.

The first thing to do is to move to the shade, even better if in a cool and closed place. In case of particularly pronounced symptoms or in the presence of vomiting and fainting, it is advisable to transport or accompany the person affected by the sun immediately to a doctor or to the emergency room . Skin lesions ( sunburn or erythema) should be treated later .


Colpo di Sole: what to do immediately

Move to the shade

When you feel the first signs of discomfort, it is advisable to get away from the sun and take shelter in a cool, sheltered and well ventilated place to lower the body temperature.

  • Attention! Do not stay under the umbrella, as the sun's rays filter the same and the temperature remains high.

Fresh compresses

To counteract dehydration, drink small sips of cool water (not ice-cold, to avoid the danger of congestion) and wet your head with a damp cloth. To cool the body, spray water at room temperature or pat the wrists, sides of the neck, groin, armpits and temples with wet towels.

  • Attention! The water used to cool the body must be lukewarm and not frozen in order not to cause vasoconstriction and prevent heat loss.

Remain lying down

Lie down with your legs raised with respect to the rest of the body to promote the return circulation from the peripheral areas of the body to the heart .


How to help those who show signs of sunstroke

  • Accompany the person who shows signs of sunstroke, in a place sheltered from the sun, cool and well ventilated, wet their head and cool them by waving a newspaper.
  • If the person faints and after 5 minutes does not regain consciousness, call a doctor or go to the emergency room promptly.
  • Attention! If no action is taken immediately, sunstroke can lead to loss of consciousness, up to convulsions and impaired functionality of the cardiovascular system .


Sunstroke: tips to prevent it

To avoid sunstroke, other valid measures - not only at the sea or in the mountains - are:

  • Repair your head with a hat with a visor and sunglasses ;
  • Drink frequently throughout the day, at least two liters of water in total;
  • Consume foods rich in water , such as seasonal fruit and fresh vegetables ;
  • Do not take alcohol , very cold foods or drinks;
  • Keep forehead and wrists cool by frequently wetting them with fresh water;
  • Do not make particularly intense physical efforts;
  • Expose the skin to the sun progressively, avoiding the central hours of the day (11-16), protecting it with sunscreen and repeating the application every two hours.

In general, in the hottest hours of the day, to avoid sunstroke:

  • It is good not to be exposed to the sun too much;
  • Stay in cool places with adequate ventilation (if necessary, cool the rooms with fans or air conditioners);
  • Wear light and light-colored clothes, made with natural fibers (linen and cotton) that do not hinder transpiration;
  • Lower your body temperature with lukewarm, not cold, baths and showers.

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