A new study suggests that symptoms of heat stroke may be eased by applying cold packs to the cheeks, hands and feet, potentially offering a new way to help lower body temperatures in overheated athletes.

Study co-author Dr Grant Lipman, a researcher in emergency medicine at Stanford University in California, said that the cheeks, palms, and soles of the feet are special areas with blood vessels that don’t contract when cold packs are applied, helping to remove heat from the skin surface and cool body temperatures.

Heat-related illness is common, and can often be prevented by proper hydration and limited exertion outside during the hottest parts of the day. But left untreated, heat stroke can develop and be fatal. The condition kills thousands of people every year, most during the hottest months, and is a leading cause of death among young athletes, the authors write in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

Warning signs for heat exhaustion, a precursor to heat stroke, can include heavy sweating, clammy skin, weakness, nausea or vomiting, and fainting, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat stroke develops when the body temperature exceeds 39.44 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit), requiring rapid cooling with cold packs or an icy bath and then hospitalization.

Dr Edward Otten, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati, who wasn’t involved in the study said that the new placement method for cold packs might be useful for less severe heat illness, and work well at rehab stations for firefighters or soldiers, or for cooling tents at marathons and other athletic events.

Source: Content modified from the post of Lisa Rapaport on Reuters

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Armed with a PhD in Alternative Medicine, a graduate degree in Biotechnology, an MSc, and an MBA in Clinical Research and Clinical Pharmacology, Dr Jonathan is a certified practitioner of Alternative Medicine and is actively involved in patient education initiatives. He is also the author of the bestselling book, Outsmart Diabetes. Dr Jonathan loves to share his passion for herbs and other alternative medicinal practices with others through his writing.