What happens to a person after a lightning strike: 90% survive

Alina MilsentLife
Lightning strike

The reason of lightning strikes is most often ignoring simple safety rules. Those who think a thunderstorm is not a serious cause of excitement are very wrong.

Lightning can send millions of volts of electricity through the body and the cause of death is usually instant cardiac arrest. What happens to a person if they are struck by lightning was told by Live Science.

Ryan Blumenthal, a former forensic physician and now one of the world's top lightning experts, said that the enormous electrical voltage stops the heart's natural rhythm. People struck by lightning often have burst eardrums and nervous system paralysis. A second cause of fatalities are burns from burning clothing or hair.

Blumenthal reassures, "lightning does not kill all of its victims". About 90 percent survive. Voltage discharges can pass through the body in a fraction of a second and they often don't even have enough time to leave a tangible mark.

Mary Ann Cooper, professor emerita of emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, also frequently deals with people injured by lightning. She gave a list of symptoms and illnesses that people begin to suffer after being struck:

  • nerve damage;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • neurological symptoms similar to those after a concussion;
  • impaired thought processes;
  • difficulty concentrating, etc.

According to Prof. Cooper, scientists have not yet figured out the nature of these symptoms, but there is a theory that they are caused by some combination of tissue destruction from the current and trauma from the sudden change in pressure.

People who survive lightning strikes report memory loss, chronic nerve pain and depression. Increasingly, survivors are noticing "psychic abilities", including a tendency to envision the future or a direct connection to a higher intelligence.

Fern-like "Lichtenberg figures" sometimes appear on the skin of survivors. Doctors say the phenomenon is caused by damaged blood vessels.

The world record holder for lightning injuries is Roy Sullivan, a caretaker at Shenandoah National Park. Between 1942 and 1977, Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times. He survived all seven strikes, although he suffered burns from burning his hair and clothing, but died, committing suicide in 1983. Suicidal thoughts is another symptom experienced by some lightning survivors, experts say.

Blumenthal warned that 3 to 5 percent of lightning strikes are direct. Contact injuries from touching various objects (trees or buildings) when struck by lightning account for another 5% of injuries. The most common injuries (80% of injuries) are side flashes and electrocutions from the ground when struck by lightning. During a lateral flash, the victim is standing near an object when it is struck by lightning, causing some of the electrical potential to "spill out" onto the observer. An earth current shock occurs when lightning strikes the ground under the victim's feet.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL shared what you can not do during a thunderstorm and where it is better to hide from lightning.

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