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JustHere | December 9, 2016

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HMC records 190 heat-related illnesses in July; residents urged to take caution against heat illnesses

HMC records 190 heat-related illnesses in July; residents urged to take caution against heat illnesses

With the levels of humidity continuing to rise across the country, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is reminding residents to take precautions and protect themselves against related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The total number of heat-related illnesses recorded at the Emergency Department in June and July were 98 and 190 cases respectively.

Heat exhaustion is a condition where symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse as a result of the body overheating. It is one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heat stroke being the most severe.

Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity. Heat exhaustion is preventable but without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition.

HMC’s Chief Consultant of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Warda Al Saad explained that people who work outside are highly susceptible to heat exhaustion. “To avoid heat illnesses, outdoor workers should increase their water and fluid consumption even before they get thirsty. But they should avoid drinking caffeinated drinks as this will help prevent dehydration. It is important to ensure people rest between 10 am and 3 pm, which is the hottest period of the day, because that is when we see more cases at the Emergency Department,” she cautioned.

According to Dr. Al Saad, the majority of patients seen at the Emergency Department are young men and outdoor workers, including those with underlying illnesses which aggravated their conditions. “A few of these patients were required to stay for a short period because they have other health conditions aside from heat exhaustion. Otherwise, a good number are mild cases.”

“Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of working under high humidity or whilst exercising. Possible heat exhaustion symptoms include: cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat; heavy sweating; faintness; dizziness; fatigue; weak, rapid pulse; low blood pressure upon standing; muscle cramps; nausea; and headache.

“Colleagues should also watch for signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in workers and if they discover someone is in distress, they should take action by giving them cold drinks and taking them to a shaded and cool area.” She suggested that if the affected person does not improve or continues to show drowsiness or confusion, an ambulance should be called immediately.

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