ISLAMABAD – The health experts have advised the people to take precautionary measures in scorching heat, as Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) treated 458 patients suffering from heat exhaustion in last 45 days.
Executive Director of PIMS Professor Dr Mahmood Jamal informed as many as 14 disorders resulting from exposure to heat have been recognised including heat stroke, heat hyperpyrexia, heat exhaustion, heat syncope and heat cramps. Dr Waseem Khawaja, Pims spokesman, said the hospital emergency treated 458 patients suffering from heat exhaustion in last 45 days, among them 45 per cent were female and 50 per cent were male and 5 per cent were children above five years of age.
Heat stroke results from failure of heat regulating mechanism. It is characterised by very high body temperature which may rise to 110f or 43.3C and profound disturbances including delirum, convoulsions, coma, dry hot skin, sweating is absent or sometimes excessive sweating takes place. Outcome is often fatal even if the patient is brought quickly to the medical centres or hospitals, informed Dr Khawaja.
Treatment consists of rapidly cooling of the body in ice water bath till the rectal temperature falls below to 38.9C. The rectal temperature should be monitored continously both to monitor the efficacy of hypothermia treatment and to guard against the development of clinically significant hypothermia, which can occur if cooling is continued too long. The patient suffering from heat stroke should be kept in bed for several days until the temperature control becomes stable.
Heat exhaustion is milder illness than heat stroke. It is caused by imbalance or inadequate replacement of water and salts lost in perspiration due to thermal stress.
Its symptoms include, dizziness, weakness and fatigue. It may be severe enough to require hospitalization especially in elderly age patients. Treatment is only replacement of fluid and electrolytes balance.
Heat cramps another problem in high temperature is due to doing heavy muscular work in high temperature and humidity that cause pain in muscles. Cause of heat cramps is loss of sodium and chloride in blood. Another ill effect of heat is heat syncope. The person standing in the sun becomes pale, blood pressure falls and he collapses suddenly. The condition occurs due to fall in the blood pressure due to pooling of blood in legs as a result of dilation of blood vessels, so less blood goes to heart and blood pressure falls and less amount of blood goes to brain.
Treatment of syncope is simple that the patient be made to lie in the shade with the head slightly down. Recovery occurs usually within 5 to 10 minutes.
Dr Mehmood Jamal said one could prevent heat related illnesses by taking certain precautionary measures. Persons working under conditions of high temperature and humidity should be encouraged to drink cool water as labourers doing hard work in the sun requires about one litre of water per hour and for sedentary worker the requirement is half litre per hour.
The clothing worn should be light, loose and of light colours. Protective goggles, shields and helmets can also be helpful in preventing heat related problems. The working environment should have proper temperature and humidity by proper ventilation and air conditioning.
Adults and children over 12 years of age if feel that they are dehydrated they should leave the place in sunlight and stop their activity and lie down in cool place or shade. They should prop up their feet and take off extra clothes and drink plenty of water, juice or sports drink and avoid tea coffee, soft drinks and drinks having caffeine in it as these drinks causes dehydration. Also avoid high protein diet.
Persons should cover their heads with umbrella, cloth, cap or hat while going into the sunlight .One large bottle of water is necessary per hour in hot climate. It can be noticed that drinking enough water makes urine almost clear rather yellow.
Watermelon and cucumbers should be used for preventing dehydration. Health experts suggests not to leave the children in car, as many children die each year due to sunstroke in cars as the temperature in car suddenly rises and lead to death of child.
People at risk of dehydration in summer are diabetics, patients of chronic diseases etc , AIDS, patients suffering from vomiting ,diarrhea, fever, new nursing mothers, mentally challenged and handicapped persons, patients using diuretics and laxatives, drug abusers and airplane travelers.