Is the summer heat draining you out? 

By Dr Basavaraj Kuntoji| Express News Service | Published: 18th April 2019 02:39 AM

BENGALURU: With the sun blazing at its best, the summer this year is promising to be hotter than the previous season. While many are gearing up to drive out of the city to cooler places in order to escape the heat, it can be hard escaping the various illnesses that tend to strike more in summer. Here are some tips to stay safe from the various heat-related ailments.

The key to beating the summer heat is to stay well hydrated. Consume a minimum of 8-10 glasses of water per day and even more if exercising or sweating. Fruit juices, buttermilk can be consumed in plenty. Another drink that can be consumed liberally during summer is tender coconut water. It is hygienic, cool and also rich in several minerals like potassium.

â–  Eat only freshly prepared food and store in refrigerator whenever needed. Avoid eating outside food and food not preserved well to stay safe from food poisoning. Eating more of fresh fruits and vegetables helps in hydration and is also refreshing.
â–  Make sure the water consumed is hygienic. Use of unclean water or  consuming fruit juices and  ice creams prepared from contaminated water can cause water borne illnesses like diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid, cholera and viral hepatitis. Good hand hygiene, frequent hand washing, using clean drinking water, avoiding contaminated food and drinks can safeguard one from these infectious conditions.
â–  Prolonged exposure to high temperatures in summer can be dangerous. It can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a condition that results from failure of heat regulating mechanisms in our body. It can result in the body temperature rising to as high as 43.3 degrees Celsius. The skin becomes dry, hot and sweating can be absent or diminished. A person with heat stroke can have partial or complete loss of consciousness, delirium or convulsions. It can even be fatal.
â–  People doing heavy muscular work in high temperature and humidity can develop heat cramps. They are painful and spasmodic contractions of skeletal muscles, occurring because of loss of sodium and chloride from the body. Heat syncope and heat stress are other disorders resulting from excessive heat.  
Prevention is better than cure

These conditions can be prevented by consuming enough amount of cool water, as much as one litre per hour for people doing heavy work in hot weather. Also, duration of exposure to hot environment must be cut down with regular periods of rest between intense work. Light clothing that is loose helps in dissipation of heat from the body. Use of protective goggles, shields, air conditioning and proper ventilation can go a long way  in guarding oneself from the ill effects of heat.

Swimming is an activity that gives some respite from heat and is a popular pastime for both adults and children in this season. While it is a good way to beat the heat, swimming in unclean and ill maintained pools can be a source of infections of the eyes, ears, gastro intestinal tract and even skin. Make sure the pool is well maintained and the water is treated with chlorine. People with existing infections should not use the pools to avoid spreading the infection.

Incidence of  viral or bacterial conjunctivitis which are contagious are also likely to increase in summer. Avoiding direct contact and maintaining hand hygiene can help prevent the spread.

Skin conditions like prickly heat, sun burns and polymorphic light eruptions are again common during summer. The best way to prevent damage to skin is to stay away from Sun. When going out in the sun, use protective clothing, hats or goggles. Liberal use of sunscreens prevents damage from ultraviolet rays. Staying well hydrated also helps to keep the skin healthy.

(The writer is a consultant physician, Manipal Hospital Malleswaram)

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