"Why is Chennai so hot today?" "This weather is unbearable". Dozens of tweets groaning about the Chennai summer flood social media as Chennaiites take to the streets full-time after two years of shut-in.
This accompanies the warnings by weather forecasters and meteorologists who have spoken of the rising wet-bulb temperatures (a measure of heat and humidity). In fact, the city saw the hottest day of the year on March 22.
As fatigued and fed-up Chennaiites brave the scorching sun on their journey to normalcy, doctors remind us of the implications of the same on the body and how we can be ready for the worsening heat and humidity that’s coming our way.
The sweltering weather has inevitable consequences on our bodies, as Dr Smitha Jain, the consultant for general medicine and lifestyle medicine at SIMS hospital, reminds, "Common problems one faces when exposed to severe heat is dehydration, heat exhaustion and more severely, a heat stroke. When these conditions worsen, you could face tiredness, headache, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and muscle and abdominal cramps. Dehydration also leads to a loss of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. And as people tend to eat outside during summers, viral, gastrointestinal issues and food poisoning are not uncommon."
Dr Vijaysree, the general physician and nephrologist from Prashanth Hospitals, adds that loss of water also contributes to low urine quantity that affects the kidneys, liver and urinary tract. An occurrence (or recurrence) of kidney stones and renal stones can also be observed.
Your insides are not the only part of your body that suffers. Dr Nidhi Singh, consultant - dermatologist at Gleneagles Global Health City, also elaborates on the harsh effects of summer on the skin. “Too much heat on the skin can cause a rash, tiny bumps, pimples, and also contribute to fungal infections and bacterial infections when, for instance, a person is in shoes all day sweating. There is also pigmentation such as suntan, and more seriously, melanoma.”
With the sun beating down on us and threatening multi-faceted body complications, these three doctors give us their summertime tips to stay healthy and protected.
To eat or not to eat
Consume seasonal foods that are high in water content such as watermelon, musk melon and tender coconut. If you have a heart issue, consult your doctor before consumption.
Eat vegetables that are rich in water like bottle gourd.
Ensure a daily intake of 8-10 glasses (approximately) of water. You may not even notice you are dehydrated. The intake may be increased if you experience additional sweating in the day.
Stay away from unhygienic food spots and uncovered foods. Avoid raw foods outside and unboiled water. Cooked foods are a safer bet since the contamination will be destroyed in the same.
Spicy food may contribute to more sweating, so avoid/restrict the same.
If you feel dehydrated, consume some lemon juice or add a pinch of salt to your water to replace the lost electrolytes.
Carry water or any other liquid when you step outside.
To do or not to do
Avoid stepping out in the sun in the peak hours of 10 am to 3-4 pm.
Avoid dark and tight-fitted clothing. Instead, opt for loose, light-coloured linens and cotton.
Check for signs of dehydration in your urine. Healthy urine is clear to slightly yellow. Darker shades are cause for concern.
Use little or no face powder as it may cake up with the sweat, adding to irritation.
Invest in a good sunscreen (at least SPF 30 or above). Moisturise within three minutes of showering.
Follow a regular skincare routine of cleansing, moisturising and sunscreening. Opt for a gentle cleanser and a light moisturiser, and apply over a teaspoon all over your face and the front of your neck.