ALOR DIVE about “Sun and Heat protection”

The closer you are to the Equator, the more intense the rays of the sun are, and with them the strain on your skin from ultra-violet rays.


Sunburn should be avoided as much as possible. Short-term drawbacks, apart from the unpleasant local discomfort, include a limitation of skin function (reduced cooling because of temporary loss of sweat gland function!). Over the long run there is an increased risk of skin cancer. Travelers should, first and foremost, make sure they protect themselves: head covering, long, loose-fitting clothing, creams with a high light protection factor. Longer-term unprotected stays in the sun should definitely be avoided.

Sunstroke and heat prostration

Sunstroke comes about from direct solar radiation on the unprotected head, and there are very simple ways to avoid it (wear a hat!) Heat syncope (prostration) is caused by a regulatory disorder of the circulatory system when standing for a long time in the heat. It is largely harmless. The victim should be laid down in the shade (with the feet up) and cooled off.

Heat stress and heat stroke

A heat stroke (hyperpyrexia) is caused by a breakdown of the heat regulation system, for example from constant heat stress (day and night), insufficient physical fitness, overweight, alcohol stress, too much physical stress, too warm clothing, medications (e.g. "water pills"), infections and insufficient fluid intake. The sweat production sinks and the body temperature rises to temperatures around 39° - 41° Celsius. The skin becomes dry and red, severe headaches occur. Finally this condition brings on a limitation of brain function, cramp attacks and finally coma. The only method of treatment is by cooling the afflicted person. The entire body should be laid down in the shade and packed in moist compresses. The patient should be taken as soon as possible to a hospital. The fatality rate for severe hyperpyrexia is 20%!

Heat prostration

Depending on the cause, heat prostration is divided into three different categories: water, salt or sweat deficiency (=inadequate function of the sweat glands). All three forms are dangerous, and the first and last can develop into a heat stroke.

Water deficiency heat prostration

Water deficiency heat prostration is caused by inadequate water intake in a heat stress situation. Extreme examples of this are shipwreck victims on the open sea or persons stranded in the desert. The first thing that happens is extreme thirst and a tingling sensation in the skin. The urine is highly concentrated and dark. The mucous membrane dries out so severely that it is almost impossible to speak. The temperature, respiration frequency and pulse rate increase, the lips become bluish. A haggard face and deep-set eyes complete the image of the diseased person before sinking into a coma. Liquid replacement and immediate medical attention are highly urgent.

Salt deficiency heat prostration

Salt deficiency heat prostration generally occurs in the case of inexperienced newcomers after several days of strenuous, sweat-producing activity, balanced out with plenty of liquid but not enough salt. Gastrointestinal infections with diarrhea and vomiting accelerate the outbreak. The body's salt reserves are exhausted, which results in functional disorders in those organs that require salt. The symptoms begin with increased exhaustion, headache and severe muscle cramps. Absolutely typical signs include a deep paleness in the face and sweat-moistened skin when the patient faints. Besides the usual measures (repose, cooling, liquid), salt intake is very important.

Sweat deficiency heat prostration

Sweat deficiency heat prostration comes about in persons who have spent several months or years in hot climates. It can be regarded as an exhaustion of the sweat glands. Little blisters appear, especially on the trunk and the upper arms. Very little sweat is formed in this area, or none at all. Especially in the midday heat, this leads to weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath. The head sweats massively during these attacks, and there is a very strong urge to urinate. People with anhydroid heat prostration must for at least a certain time (a minimum of one month) be removed from the stressful climate, to give the body an opportunity to regenerate. On their return, they should take their time carefully getting used to the heat again under medical observation, as, in extreme situations, a heat stroke may occur.

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