DOHA: The Emergency Department at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) has received between 30 and 40 heat exhaustion cases daily during the last week.
In July, the department received 77 cases of heat -related illnesses and 118 in June.
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has urged people to take extra precautions and safeguard themselves against heat illnesses such as exhaustion and stroke.
Heat exhaustion is a condition whose 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 the most severe.
Causes include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition. Fortunately, heat exhaustion is preventable.
“We are asking people, especially outdoor workers, to take care during this period as we have seen a sudden surge in cases of heat exhaustion due to the sharp rise in humidity,” said Emergency Department Chairman, Prof Peter Cameron.
He said people who work outdoors are highly susceptible to heat exhaustion. “It is important to ensure people exposed to the sun and heat take rest at regular intervals between 10am and 3pm, which is the hottest period of the day because that is when we see more cases.”
According to Prof Cameron, majority of patients being seen are young men, including those with underlying illnesses which aggravated their conditions.
“Only a few patients required short stay at our facility because they have other health conditions aside the 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 exercising. Possible heat exhaustion symptoms include cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in heat, heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, rapid pulse, low blood pressure upon standing, muscle cramps, nausea, and headache.”
Professor Cameron said every patient suffering from heat exhaustion was given prompt treatment, including intravenous fluids and electrolytes to quickly rehydrate them.
“Colleagues should also watch for signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in their co-workers and once they discover someone in distress, they should take immediate action by giving them cold drinks, bringing them to a shaded and cool area.” He said if the affected person does not improve or shows drowsiness or confusion, an ambulance should be called immediately.
“The sudden rise in heat stroke cases took everyone by surprise, but I reiterate that cases in general are not on the rise this summer compared to last year. It shows that most construction companies are complying with the government guidelines for outdoor workers.”
HMC urged anyone experiencing signs and symptoms of heat illnesses to seek urgent professional advice or dial 999 for Ambulance Service.