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6 heat-related illnesses to be wary of this summer

6 heat-related illnesses to be wary of this summer

With temperatures soaring as high as 50 degrees Celsius during summer, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised residents to exercise caution against heat-related illnesses.

In a press statement, Dr. Saad Abdulfattah Al Nuaimi, Senior Consultant at the Emergency Department of HMC said, “In May, heat exhaustion cases numbered about ten (10) per week. From June through September the expected number is five to ten (5-10) cases per day. Cases of heat stroke are rare, at most two (0-2) a month.”

People most susceptible to heat related illness are elderly people, young children, babies, and those who are obese or who have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or other co-morbidities.

Here are the six common heat related illnesses affecting people:

  • Heat cramps – Muscle pains and spasms caused by exposure to high heat and humidity, resulting in loss of fluids and electrolytes.

What to do: Move to a cool, shaded area and increase intake of plenty of cool drinks, preferably water,  non-caffeinated or non-alcoholic beverages. Adequate intake of fluids and salty snacks can help prevent heat cramps.

  • Heat syncope Dehydration and fainting attacks, which commonly occur among those who exercise or stand for a long time in a hot environment.

What to do: Make the patient lie down in a cool, shaded area and give them non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids to drink. If symptoms persist, rush them to the hospital.

  • Heat exhaustion – Symptoms include heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and occasionally vomiting, but usually consciousness is retained. This happens when the body’s temperature control system fails when exposed to high temperatures (above 35 degrees Celcius) and humidity.

What to do: Remove or loosen clothing on patient and give them a cool shower. Give them plenty of cool drinks and some salty snacks. Patients with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity should be rushed to the hospital.

  • Heat stroke – Symptoms include high body temperature usually exceeding 40 degree Celsius, increased pulse rate, headache, dizziness, fainting and nausea. In extreme cases, heat strokes can cause damage to the central nervous system, leading to convulsions or coma, or even death.

What to do: Rush the patient to a hospital. If the person has nausea or is vomiting, make him lie in a lateral position (on one side) to avoid vomit entering the respiratory tract. If a person has convulsions, make sure he is away from things that could cause injury such as fire or electricity.

  • Heat rash – This is visible in the form of red pimples or blisters which usually affect the neck, upper chest, area below the breast, in the armpit, in the elbow, and in the groin. Heat rash occurs when sweat glands or ducts become obstructed due to excessive sweating.

What to do: Keep the affected area dry and apply powder. Avoid any ointments or creams, which can further block the sweat glands and worsen the condition.

  • Sunburn – a first-degree burn, which causes some redness and pain in the skin. Fair-skinned people are more prone to sunburns.

What to do: Avoid sun exposure and use sun creams.

Summer Dos & Don’ts

DO

DON’T

  • Drink lots of fluid especially water to compensate for the fluid that your body loses due to sweating. Opt for salty food as they help replenish salts and minerals in the body
  • If you plan to go outdoors, apply sunscreen that is has an SPF level of at least 15. Carry sunglasses and a cap too. Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes, preferably made of natural fibres like cotton.
  • It is advisable to take one or more friends when going outdoors. That way, help is readily available in case you experience a blackout or any discomfort.
  • Eat heavy meals or hot and greasy food, as they tend to increase body temperature.
  • Leave infants, children or pets unattended in a parked car, as temperatures can rapidly rise inside the vehicle.
  • Schedule outdoor activities between 11am-3pm when the temperature is at its peak.

 

Here are some handy tips if you have pets:

  • Cats and dogs with short snouts are susceptible to heat strokes, particularly the desert heat temperatures. Signs and symptoms of this include salivation, heavy or rapid panting, trouble walking, vomiting, diarrhea (possibly with blood), a bright red tongue or pale lips.

What to do: To avoid this, keep your cats and dogs away from direct heat, place a wet towel over your pet’s body and in case these signs intensify, take him or her to your nearest veterinarian. In addition, overweight and older cats and dogs may find it harder to cope with the heat and certain breeds may have more difficulty. Seek immediate veterinary care in this instance.

  • Keep your pets away from swimming pools or water bodies as they face the risk of drowning. Do not also allow them to drink water from the pool as consuming chlorinated water or any water with algae is bad for them.
  • Keep feeding and water bowls covered and in the shade. Also change the water and wash the bowls every day as evaporation may leave algae and calcium deposits in them.

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