With Mercury Levels Shooting Up, Rise In Heat-Related Ailments Expected; Experts Ask People To Take Precautions

Side-effects of heat waves can range from minor like heat syncope, cramps, and fatigue to heat strokes, which could be sometimes fatal.

One should avoid outdoor activity in the afternoon and wear sunscreen to avoid sub burn and tanning.
One should avoid outdoor activity in the afternoon and wear sunscreen to avoid sub burn and tanning.

An intense heatwave broiled Delhi on Wednesday with maximum temperature reaching 43.5 degrees Celsius, the highest in April in 12 years. Several other parts of the country are experiencing oppressive temperatures. Considering this, experts have flagged the health issues related to rising mercury levels. Side-effects of heat waves can range from minor like heat syncope, cramps, and fatigue to heat strokes, which could be sometimes fatal. Experts also said that heat waves could lead to sunburn and fungal infections.

Dr Dileep Mavalankar, Director of Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, said the side-effects of heat waves could be minor as well as major, which may sometimes result in deaths or even permanent neurological damage.

With regards to minor side-effects, Mavalankar said extreme heat can cause dehydration, for especially those who venture outdoors. It can also lead to heat cramps, fatigue. Extreme heat can also lead to heat syncope (fainting or dizziness).

“As several parts of the country are reeling under an intense heat wave, there could be more admissions in hospitals,” he told PTI.

Heat stroke is the common heat-related ailment, which could result in death, he said.

“With the heat stroke, the blood temperature also rises and proteins in the brain curdle. This could lead to neurological damages and sometime even to death,” Mavalankar, whose institute prepared Heat Action Plan for Ahmedabad along with the local civic body, said.

He also pointed out that indirect heat stroke stressing that elderly and those with co-morbidities are prone to it.

Intense heat puts more stress on organs like heart and lungs as they function beyond their capacity which could be hazardous, “One can be affected by indirect heatstroke without actually venturing out,” he said.

Dr Sanket Jain, consultant pulmonologist with Masina Hospital, Mumbai, said due to increase in heat since last two weeks, many patients have complained of their inability to eat food as they felt having a bloated stomach. Many also complained of unsound sleep due to waking up in nights due to dryness of mouth.

Dr Banani Choudhury, consultant dermatologist, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital, also highlighted the problem of fungal infection due to excessive heat.

The fungal infection acquired due to perspiration or profuse sweating isn’t acquired from someone else, it is due to the fungal flora that remains in our body, due to sweating they increase in number and cause infection, Choudhury said.

“These infections can be in under arms, groins and then spread to other parts of the body. They are very contagious and spread through the body quickly and can also infect other people in vicinity like family members,” Choudhury added.

Dr Harish Chafle, senior consultant – Pulmonology and Critical Care at Global Hospital, Parel Mumbai, said those at high risks must be monitor those at high risk and little extra attention needs to be paid to infants and young children, people 65 years of age or older, obese, those with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.

He said one should avoid outdoor activity in the afternoon and wear sunscreen to avoid sub burn and tanning.

Chafle suggested drinking plenty of fluids and staying away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks as it could lead to body losing more body fluid.

“Excessive sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. You can replace the salt and minerals you lose through sweat with a sports drink. If you are struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, or some other medical condition, please concern your doctor before you drink a sports beverage or consume salt tablets,” he said.

Shweta Mahadik, Clinical Dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, said rising temperature increases likeness for drinks as a response to the water content getting removed from the body in the form of sweat.

While having plain water is good, adding varieties to it is even better. Natural cooling drinks carry organic ingredients that help us keep going in this sweltering heat and maintain good health, she said.

Mahadik suggested lemon juice, kokam juice, jeera coriander seeds water, fennel seeds juice helps in lowering the body temperature.

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