Keep off sun during hottest time to avoid exhaustion

June 18, 2014 - 1:26:24 am

DOHA: Primary healthcare centres on average receive one heat exhaustion case every month, according to a senior official. 

The number of cases increases between May and September each year due to high temperatures. 

However, within one week (in May-June), three centres in the northern region received only two cases, according to Dr Mohamed Aiad, Assistant Regional Director of Operations, Northern Region, Primary Healthcare Corporation. 

Centres in Umm Salal and Madinat Khalifa treated one case each, while Al Ghuwariya centre has not received any case. 

To a question on average number of cases treated at centres each year, Dr Aiad said  in an email interview: “Nil to one case per month per health centre”.

Heat exhaustion is when a person experiences fatigue (extreme tiredness) as a result of a drop in blood pressure and blood volume. It’s caused by loss of body fluids and salts after being exposed to heat for a long time. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion can develop rapidly and include very hot skin that feels ‘flushed,’ heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and a rapid heartbeat. 

“If a person with heat exhaustion is quickly taken to a cool place and given water to drink and excess clothing is removed, they should start to feel better within half an hour and have no long-term complications. However, without treatment, they could develop heatstroke,” said Dr Aiad. 

“Heatstroke is a more serious condition than heat exhaustion. It occurs when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high due to excessive heat exposure. The body is no longer able to cool itself and starts to overheat,” he added. 

Signs of heatstroke include dry skin, vertigo, confusion, headache, thirst, nausea, rapid shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and muscle cramps.

Inadequate fluid intake, working under  sun and in areas without ventilation would lead to heat exhaustion. 

To avoid heat exhaustion Dr Aiad advised people to stay out of the sun during the hottest time of the day, particularly between 11am and 3pm. If they have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, do not leave anyone in a parked car, avoid extreme physical exertion, have plenty of cold drinks, but avoid drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol, eat cold food, particularly salads and fruits with a high water content, take a cool shower, bath or body wash, sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of neck and keep the environment cool. 

The Peninsula