Hyperthermia in children

Children are at high risk for temperature-related disorders in hot environments. This can range from mild heat exhaustion to severe, potentially fatal heat stroke. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable because of their underdeveloped thermoregulatory centers. High ambient temperatures, such as those in closed cars or poorly ventilated spaces with temperatures of 30-40°C, can cause illness or even death.

  1. Heat exhaustion: This condition can precede heat stroke and often affects children exposed to high temperatures who sweat excessively, especially during strenuous physical activity, and are deficient in salt and water. Children with heat exhaustion may have symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, thirst, headache and fatigue. In addition, they may have an increased heart rate and breathing rate, while blood pressure is usually normal. Rectal temperature usually ranges between 38 and 40°C.
  2. Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a serious, potentially fatal condition that requires immediate action. In children with heatstroke, the rectal temperature exceeds 40°C, and consciousness may be impaired. Other symptoms include nausea, headache, impaired consciousness, vomiting, and loss of vascular volume.

The skin of children with heatstroke is usually dry, warm and may appear reddish or ashen, depending on the circulation.

Actions to address heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • Move to a cooler environment: Move the child to a cooler place immediately to reduce exposure to high temperatures.
  • Replenishment of salt: Children can receive 20 ml of saline solution per kilogram of body weight (you can use a home prepared solution – one tablespoon of table salt in 500 ml of water).
  • Intravenous therapy: If dehydration and low blood pressure are present, establish an intravenous line and administer NaCl solution or Ringer’s solution at a rate of 20 ml per kilogram of body weight.
  • Monitor vital signs: Continuously monitor your child’s vital signs, including temperature.
  • Ensure an open airway: Establish an airway and monitor the child continuously.
  • Active cooling: In the event of heat stroke, actively cool the child, for example by spraying with cold water, applying cold compresses or using a fan.
  • Transport to hospital: Children with severe symptoms of heat stroke should be taken to hospital immediately for further examination and treatment.

It is important to react quickly to the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke because they can seriously endanger the health and life of the child.


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