Heatstroke, sunburn real threats as mercury rises

Heatstroke, sunburn real threats as mercury rises

Heatstroke is especially dangerous as it can cause multi-organ failure. Back-to-back lockdowns result in fewer cases in two years

KOCHI: With mercury level rising in the state, experts have urged people to exercise caution for avoiding health hazards like heatstroke and sunburn as they could prove fatal if ignored. Experts say heatstroke, or sunstroke, is especially dangerous as it could cause multi-organ failure.

“The year 2019 was the peak of summer heat in the state with over 1,500 heat-related incidents and 32 sunstroke cases reported,” said a health official. Already, cases of sunburn and sunstroke have been reported across the state due to the rise in temperature this year. On Sunday, a councillor of Punalur municipality in Kollam suffered sunburn on his neck and leg while returning from work.

“No major heat-related incidents were reported in 2020 and 2021 as Covid restrictions confined people to their homes. Now, the situation has changed,” said Dr Mathew John, professor of General Medicine and based in Kottayam.

He explained: “Heatstroke progresses to multi-organ dysfunction syndrome. So, rapid, effective cooling followed by close monitoring and specific treatment for injured organs are needed. Elderly with underlying illnesses like cardiovascular, pulmonary and cerebrovascular diseases, need to be extra careful as do those who are on certain medications for underlying illnesses,” he said.

Ernakulam district medical officer V Jayasree said people of all age groups should be cautious. “However, some are in the high-risk category. They include infants, young children, people aged 65 and above, those who have mental illness and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure,” she said.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has ruled out heat wave warnings in the state. However, it has asked people to stay alert. “As the IMD has indicated that showers are expected in a couple of days, we hope the situation will get better. At present, people should take care to avoid severe health issues,” said a KSDMA official.

Keep your cool

Main heat-related illnesses
Heatstroke, sunburn, exhaustion, heat cramps & rashes

What is a heatstroke?
Heatstroke is the most hazardous condition in the spectrum of illnesses progressing from heat exhaustion. It could be fatal as it causes multi-organ damage, including that of brain, kidney and heart. Heatstroke is more severe than sunburn.

High body temperature, throbbing headache, dizziness and light-headedness, lack
of sweating despite heat, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting are among the symptoms. Confusion and disorientation may also happen in certain cases.

How to stay safe?

  • Drink water even if not thirsty
  • Make sure you are drinking pure water
  • Keep a bottle of water while travelling
  • To prevent other illnesses, ensure that the ice used in juice or cool drinks brought from roadside shops is made using pure water
  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Use umbrellas and hats to protect from direct sun exposure
  • Avoid direct sunlight from noon to 3pm
  • Do not allow children to play out in the sun
  • Move to a cool place upon experiencing exhaustion or sunburn
  • Make sure windows and doors in homes are open to allow proper air circulation
  • Include fruits, salads, lemon juice and tender coconut on your diet
  • Seek medical help if symptoms persist or if there is any uneasiness

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The New Indian Express