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How you can protect yourself from heat related ailments

Guwahati, Shazida Khatun: With temperatures across India soaring , mid-April is only a precursor to what summer has in store for the subcontinent.

While sunglasses and head wraps and a coat of sunscreen does provide some shield against the scorching heat, even short periods of exposure to very high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Most common among these are heat stroke, heat rash, nausea and migraines and, acute dehydration.

Dehydration is common in tropical and desert countries and can lead to other diseases and infections such as urinary tract infection (UTI) and digestion related disorders. Keeping oneself hydrated by drinking small quantities of water often or consuming fruits and vegetables high in natural sugars and water content helps keep the body hydrated. In humid environments severe loss of water due to sweating also leads to dehydration. Intake of salts and electrolytes through fluids in such environments is a must.

Heatstroke, marked by fever and a dizzy feeling, occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and body temperature continues to rise to 40.6°C or higher. It is a medical emergency. Even with immediate treatment it can be life threatening.
Quick Treatment- Move the person to a cool place and remove unnecessary clothing. Cool the person’s entire body by sponging or spraying cold water. Do not give any medicine to reduce a high body temperature that typically accompanies a heatstroke as these may have adverse effects owing to the body’s response to the stroke.

Heat Rash, typically occurs when sweat ducts of the skin become blocked or swell, causing discomfort and itching.
Quick Treatment – Cut a potato in half and appy it over the rash. After a couple of minutes, the tingling sensation will reduce. Visit a physician if the rash persists.

Heat cramps, which occur in muscles after a long hard day or after exercise because sweating causes the body to lose water, salt, and minerals.
Quick Treatment – Drink clear juice or an electrolyte containing sports drink. Practice gentle, range of motion stretching and gentle massage of the affected muscle group.

Heat edema is inflammation in the legs and hands, which can occur when you sit or stand for a long period in a hot environment.
Quick Treatment – Edema can be relieved by moving the affected part of body and keeping it elevated. Massage the swollen area it enables drainage of fluid.

Heat tetany, is usually caused by short periods of stress in hot environment.
Quick Treatment- Remove the affected person from the heat and try slowing the breathing pattern.

Heat Syncope occurs because of low blood pressure when excess heat causes the blood vessels to dilate and body fluids move into the legs because of gravity.
Quick Treatment- move the person to cool area and monitor vital signs like pulse to ensure that the person doesn’t acquire any other medical condition. Elevate legs to promote blood returning to the heart and hydrate the person with plenty of fresh water.

Heat exhaustion, which develops generally when a person is working or exercising in hot weather and does not drink enough liquids to replace those lost liquids.
Quick Treatment- recognise the symptoms, stopping the activity, and moving to a cooler environment. Rehydration with water or a sports drink

Signs and Symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of heat related illness vary based on condition, but may include the following

An elevated body temperature

  1. Head ache
  2. Nausea
  3. Weakness
  4. Dizziness
  5. Seizures
  6. Fainting

Some tips to keep you healthy in summer

  1. Get out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cooler environment, such as shade or an air-conditioned area.
  2. Elevate your feet when resting and remove all unnecessary clothing to allow the body to de-stress.
  3. Place ice bags under your arms and in your groin area, where large blood vessels lie close to the skin surface, to cool down quickly.
  4. Drink juices, or water often to replenish the body’s fluid reserves. Drink 2 qt (2 L) of cool fluids over 2 to 4 hours.
  5. Monitor the colour of your urine. If you are drinking enough fluids, your urine will appear pale in colour and the frequency will be every 2 to 4 hours. Total rehydration with oral fluids usually takes about 36 hours, but most people will begin to feel better within a few hours.
  6. Rest for at least 24 hours if you notice symptoms of any of the above mentioned heat related conditions, and continue fluid replacement with a rehydrating drink and salts.

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