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Cool tips for summer

Posted Wed 20 Jun 2012 02:21:30 pm in News, Healthcare | By Dubib.com News Desk

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Avoiding exposure to the sun for long hours is key to escaping heat exhaustion.

Even as the mercury soars draining people to dehydration, heatstroke and other heat-related sicknesses, people in the UAE, especially expatriate workers, will still have to go on with their jobs even if that means putting themselves at risk. There are ways to conserve energy and replenish fluids in the body and stay cool.

 



Birds keep themselves cool at a fountain in Sharjah as the temperature goes up.— KT photo by M.Sajjad

Dr Mazhar Dalvi, registrar, Internal Medicine at Canadian Specialist Hospital, says that people can prevent exhaustion, dehydration or heatstroke in high temperature by being cautious on what to do, what to wear and what to take when they leave their residences.

He cautions heavy coffee drinkers, consuming three to five cups of coffee a day, to break this habit in summer. “Caffeine, which is in the coffee, will increase dehydration. So, coffee drinkers should refrain from drinking excessive coffee. One cup is enough.”

People regularly drinking alcoholic drinks need to slow down too. “Alcohol tends to also increase dehydration. Alcohol drinkers must be cautious about it during hot months to avoid falling ill.”

Labourers, he says, have to really take the midday break from 12.30pm to 3.30pm as imposed by the UAE government. Otherwise, working under such extremely hot conditions will definitely be dangerous to them. “It is necessary for labourers to take this break under the government policy to ensure their well-being.”

Loose clothing is recommended. Tight clothing will accumulate body heat just like dark clothes. Black absorbs heat, hence white dresses and clothing are the ones suitable for hot months. “Light colours dissipate heat, particularly white. Water is very important. All should always carry unlimited amount of water with them when they go out to avoid dehydration,” Dr Dalvi says.



 

 

Heatstroke, exhaustion

The temperature rises to its peak during the summer months in the UAE. The combination of extreme heat, high humidity and smog can be dangerous, and may cause heat-related disorders and illnesses. Most common heat disorders are heatstroke and heat exhaustion, but the two are quite different.

Heatstroke is the most serious type of heat-related emergency. It is life-threatening and requires immediate and aggressive treatment!

Heatstroke occurs when the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms fail. Body temperature rises so high that brain damage and death may result unless the body is cooled quickly. Heatstroke is most common among those who spend long hours out in the sun on a daily basis, such as labourers, construction workers, traffic police etc. Such exposure to sun and heat can cause symptoms including severe dehydration, high fever, dry skin, hallucination and delirium. The main organs, such as the heart and kidneys, can be affected as well, and sufferers must be taken to hospital to recover.

Heat exhaustion is more common but rarely requires a hospital visit. Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heatstroke, but it can progress to heatstroke if left untreated. Heat exhaustion is caused by fluid loss which, in turn, causes blood flow to decrease to vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. As a result of dehydration, victims often complain of flu-like symptoms hours after exposure. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches and low blood pressure.

Doctors advise drinking more fluids, especially fresh juices, which can help replenish the body’s electrolytes.

Those susceptible to heat exhaustion and stroke are children, the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and those exercising and working outdoors.

The risk of heat-related illnesses and disorders can be reduced if proper precautions are taken, and overheating and dehydration are avoided.

 

Regular joggers can still go on with their exercises early morning or evening when the sun is not up to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.

A very practical way of cooling dwelling places without air-conditioning unit is recommended by Dr Ravi Kanth, specialist physician of Aster Medical Center. “Close your windows and curtains to keep inside temperature as cool as possible. When it is cooler outside in the evening, open your windows and curtains to be able to get cross ventilation and to reduce the heat. Keep electric fans on to help balance your body temperature.”

He says that it is a common mistake for people to make and keep handmade fans. It is not appropriate, for it consumes body energy and increases the core body temperature. “This should not be done. But, you can keep your body cooler by drinking extra water, at least ten glasses of water throughout 24 hours daily eventhough you are not thirsty.”

Good body hydration can be had by drinking fresh fruit juices like pineapple, oranges, apples and cucumber. “Juices from these fruits can help hydrate the body with natural water and vitamins.”

The best way to keep one’s body cool is to stay indoor and in cool places. “Do not go outside between 12.30pm and 3.30pm because the sun is at its peak and the heat is maximum,” Dr Kanth says.

 

 

Some Dos and Don'ts

Dos

Wear loose-fitting, light-weight clothing which supports evaporation of sweat and avoids hyperthermia

Stay inside as much as possible. Minimise the heat and sun exposure. Take advantage of air-conditioning

Drink plenty of liquids like water, natural juices or sport drinks, to replace fluid lost from sweating. Even if you are not thirsty, drink at least three litres that work out to 10 to 12 glasses of water everyday during summer.

Avoid intense physical activity, especially in high temperature environments and under direct sun exposure

Try to rest as much as possible and get sufficient sleep at night

Eat salty meals in summer to replace salt lost in sweat, but avoid eating heavy meals

Don’ts

Underestimate the seriousness of heat-related emergencies, especially in children or the elderly

Give medications to reduce fever (i.e. aspirin); they may cause further harm

Give victims salt tablets

Overlook possible complications from other medical problems

Give victims liquids containing alcohol or caffeine — they interfere with the body’s ability to control temperature

Give the victim anything through mouth if heat stroke is suspected

(As recommended by Dr A. Nigam, MBBS, MD (Medicine), Senior Specialist, Internal Medicine, RAK Hospital)



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