General Question

eadinad's avatar

How long do you have to be in the sun/heat to get heatstroke?

Asked by eadinad (1278points) July 15th, 2008

The weirdest thing happened to me today. I rode my bike for about five to ten minutes through neighborhood streets on the way to a friend’s house. When I got there, and was standing at the door, I got an extreme “headrush” feeling. The light swelled up until I could only see basic dark shapes surrounded by light, a loud ringing was in my ears, I was dizzy, my legs were weak/trembling, and I felt nauseated. I sat down and waited for it to pass, which took about three minutes. I fully expected to faint or black out – that’s what I imagine it would feel like – but I didn’t.

It was hot today, probably about ninety degrees, but I really didn’t exhert myself that much and while I was riding I felt totally fine. Was this just a little heat exhaustion/possibly dehydration or perhaps something more serious?

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17 Answers

scamp's avatar

It sounds like you did a little more than your body could handle in the heat. It’s happened to me too, and it’s a scary feeling. I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad you took the time to cool down and rest. The others will probably be able to tell you more. I’m glad you are ok now,.

shilolo's avatar

@Eadinad. Sounds like you did the right thing, though I would add that drinking lots of fluids would help too. What you experienced was probably mild dehydration. True heatstroke is defined as high temperature, often greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with accompanying symptom like headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and even coma.

To answer your question directly, there is no minimum time necessary for heatstroke to set in, but it typically takes longer than the 10 minutes you described. Children and the elderly are more susceptible to heatstroke (which is what tends to kill people during heat waves).

marinelife's avatar

There are some things can hasten or strengthen the effects of heat exhaustion leading to heatstroke including medications. Here are some of them:

“The following are some medicines that can put you in danger of heatstroke:

* Allergy medicines (antihistamines)
* Cough and cold medicines (anticholinergics)
* Some blood pressure and heart medicines
* Diet pills (amphetamines)
* Irritable bladder and irritable bowel medicines (anticholinergics)
* Laxatives
* Some mental health medicines
* Seizure medicines (anticonvulsants)
* Thyroid pills
* Water pills”

Hope you are feeling fine since.

mcbealer's avatar

From my own personal experience, suffering from hypoglycemia exacerbates any potential for heatstroke.

eadinad's avatar

@mcbeater – Funny you should say that, my mom always tells me she thinks I’m hypoglycemic. Diabetes runs in the family and I get a headrush feeling every single time I stand up. Perhaps I should get checked for that. Is it a difficult process to get evaluated for hypoglycemia?

syz's avatar

If you get a headrush when you stand, I would tend to think about low blood pressure.

marinelife's avatar

It sounds like since you are having additional symptoms that you should be evaluated in general. It could be a number of different conditions.

eadinad's avatar

Thanks everyone for your advice. I’ve been googling like mad and have learned a lot.

mcbealer's avatar

@ eadinad ~ the testing involves fasting and several draws of blood at specific intervals. Not the most fun!

shilolo's avatar

But, mcbealer, the first test is just a simple blood draw to look for hyperglycemia. I’ve discussed this before, but diabetics are discovered by their hyperglycemia, not hypoglycemia. The hypoglycemia-diabetes connection is due to the fact that diabetics on insulin or oral meds sometimes don’t eat enough, and the sugar-lowering effects of the insulin prevails, leading to low blood sugars.

cyrusbond's avatar

Possible pre-syncope, but I’m no M.D. Go get it checked out. Heatstroke and any temperature related conditions are highly variable from person to person. If I sit for too long, i get the same symptoms. Not as extreme, but definatly there.

Poser's avatar

Sounds like heat exhaustion. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

scamp's avatar

@Marina Thanks so much for posting the list of possible causes. I take thyroid medication, so I guess I need to be more careful in the heat!

@ mcbealer and shilolo, the doctor I worked for is diabetic and extremely sensitive to hypoglycemia. I can’t tell you how many times I had to scrape him off of the floor because he refused to eat his lunch and his sugar dropped to dangerously low levels.

The hospital suspended him twice because he dropped in the middle of a surgery. Now he is only allowed to operate if he has another qualified surgeon there to finish the surgery should it happen again. It’s a pretty scarey thing to deal with. His sugar levels can drop pretty fast. One minute he sems perfectly fine, and the next, he is on the floor siezing. A cardiologist once found him siezing in his car in the parking lot, He’s lucky he survived.

shilolo's avatar

@Scamp. Your doctor friend needs to see a better endocrinologist, be better about his eating habits, or use less medication (I don’t know whether he is on insulin or not). Hyperglycemia (high sugars) are far less dangerous acutely than hypoglcyemia (which can kill you).

syz's avatar

@shilolo: Don’t you love in the movies when a diabetic is in imminent danger of seizure and death because they can’t get to their insulin? Never mind that if they’ve been locked in a panic room or a plane or whatever and haven’t been able to eat. Sure, let’s get some insulin when our glucose if bottoming out already!

@scamp, I had the same thought – that is one poorly managed diabetic!

scamp's avatar

@syz I just watched panic room last night and thought the same thing, but I think they gave he a shot of glucagon, not insulin.

@ shilolo, His endocrinologist is great, he just thinks he can be his own physician. He refuses to take anyone’s advice. The last time he dropped with me, I had to call an ambulance because he refused to eat his lunch!! he just got “too busy.” After the IV was hooked up, his level came back up to 32. Now he wants to get a transplant to cure him. He is actually on the waiting list for surgery. He is too selfish to take care of himself properly.

shilolo's avatar

An islet cell transplant? Really? If he can’t manage his own sugars, how is he going to manage all of the immunosuppressive meds he’ll need? Maybe he should try an insulin pump first.

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