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Lightning Injuries: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Mar 21, 2024

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Lightning Injuries Symptoms

Lightning Injuries Diagnosis

Lightning Injuries Treatment

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Lightning Injuries Prevention

Lightning Injuries Prognosis

Lightning Injuries

Lightning injury is eventually caused by the lightning strike's extremely strong current after a short interval. Ten percent of lightning strikes result in the sufferer losing consciousness and stopping their breathing. If someone survives a major lightning accident, an ECG is done to monitor their heartbeat. 

Additional treatments, such as imaging or blood testing, could be necessary. Giving CPR helps treat burns and other injuries. Lightning may generate a strong electrical pulse in less than a millisecond. The heat produced by an electrical current flowing through the body burns and destroys tissues. Burns on the skin may also result in interior structural damage. 

The brief exposure period frequently limits the degree of harm to the skin's outer layer. Moreover, lightning-related internal burns are significantly less frequent than electrical injuries caused by generated electricity. However, it can quickly result in a cardiac short circuit, which can be deadly.

Furthermore, lightning can cause damage to the brain and other nervous system components, which can result in abnormalities including seizures and unconsciousness. Lightning typically strikes isolated or tall objects, such as bleachers, flagpoles, towers, trees, fences, and shelters. In an open field, the highest object can be a person. 

Metal objects and water both easily carry electricity when struck, yet they don't draw lightning. Lightning may bring electricity inside a home from external power sources or telephone wires, reaching electrical equipment or phone lines.

There are several ways that lightning may harm people:

  • There is a chance of direct lightning strikes.
  • Lightning-induced electricity can strike someone who is in close contact with or touches an object struck by lightning.
  • Electrical current flowing through the ground can have an impact on a human.
  • Blunt injuries might result from someone being thrown by the shock.

Also Read: Skull Fracture: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment


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Lightning Injuries Symptoms

A person may experience irregular heartbeats or even cardiac collapse after being struck by lightning. When the heart beats erratically or stops, breathing often stops as well. If respiration has not returned, even if the heart may beat again spontaneously, the body has run out of oxygen. Because of oxygen deficiency and potential damage to the nervous system, the heart can stop beating altogether.

Usually, brain injury leads to the loss of consciousness. Severe brain damage may result in a coma. Amnesia often manifests as an inability to recall pre-injury memories when a person awakens. The person may have difficulty focusing, think slowly, feel bewildered, and have problems remembering recent events. It is possible for personality changes to last for a lifetime.

Perforations in eardrums. Cataracts represent only one kind of potential ocular trauma. Often, both legs experience momentary paralysis (keraunoparalysis), blueness, and numbness. The skin may be entirely transparent, or it may exhibit feathering burns, branching patterns, little pinpoint areas clustered together like a cigarette burn, or streaks where the sweat turned to steam. Numbness, tingling, and weakness may result from peripheral neuropathy or injury to the nerves that leave the spinal cord.

Also Read: Forensic Autopsy: Types, Incisions & Techniques

Lightning Injuries Diagnosis

Lightning injuries might also be suspected when someone is found outside unconscious or experiencing amnesia during or shortly after a thunderstorm, even though they are frequent.

In cases when the patient collapses and may have gone into temporary cardiac arrest, electrocardiography (ECG) may be done in the hospital if the damage is significant. Whether the heart is beating normally or not is shown when the ECG is finished. Testing for blood and imaging, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be necessary at times.

Also Read: Complete Postmortem Techniques Guide

Lightning Injuries Treatment

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Since a lightning strike victim loses power, providing first aid presents no risk. For people who are unconscious and do not have a pulse, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which combines artificial breathing with chest compressions, is required. If an automated external defibrillator is available, it must be used. 

Even if the heartbeat recovers, the respiratory muscles may remain paralyzed, necessitating continued artificial respiration for the person who is still not breathing. Emergency medical assistance should be called for. Most victims of lightning strikes are in good general health, and they have a higher chance of recovering if they receive CPR promptly.

Burns and other injuries are treated as needed. If resuscitation attempts are not successful during the first 20 minutes, they are then stopped because it is unlikely that they will be successful.

Also Read: Thermal Injury: Types, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment

Lightning Injuries Prevention

  • To make informed judgments about whether to postpone outdoor events and prepare for potential issues, outdoor event planners must closely monitor weather forecasts throughout the thunderstorm season.
  • A thunderstorm may be on its way if there are clouds, rain, and strong gusts. When thunder is heard, observers should find a haven in a large, habitable building or a completely enclosed metal vehicle with its windows closed. 
  • This is because they are already in danger. Covering yourself inside a small, open structure, such as a gazebo, is not safe. Waiting until 30 minutes after the last confirmed sighting of lightning or thunder is advised before resuming outside activity.
  • To avoid lightning accidents indoors, people should avoid plumbing and electrical wiring as well as utilizing any hard-wired devices, such as a phone, computer, video game console, or headphones linked by cable to a sound system. 
  • Avoiding places with windows and doors as well as unplugging and turning off electrical equipment before a thunderstorm comes can all help to enhance safety. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and music players may all safely run only on battery power because they don't draw lightning.

Also Read: Thanatology: Types of Death, Post Mortem Changes

Lightning Injuries Prognosis

Ten percent of lightning-related injuries result in death. The only causes of mortality at the scene of injury are cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest. Those whose heartbeat and respiration return to normal are still alive. If the patient has difficulty recalling recent events or thinks slowly, it may be considered that they have persistent brain injury. Normally, keraunoparalysis resolves in a few hours, although occasionally the affected person remains weak or unstable. Nerve injury patients typically experience erectile dysfunction, insomnia, and chronic pain.

Also Read: Regional Injury: Types of Fractures, Intracranial Hemorrhages, Diagnosis, Causes


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