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Telangana: After spike in heat-related ailments, doctors now warn of viral infections post-rains

People with comorbid conditions including diabetes, children and the elderly, people with liver and heart conditions, and kidney patients need to be more careful, the doctor added.

HYDERABAD: Prolonged heatwave conditions and exceptionally hot weather, especially over the last two weeks, have taken a toll on public health. In addition, sudden rains and a subsequent drop in temperatures are likely to increase viral infections. Both government and private hospitals are seeing patients affected with heat-related illnesses, including mild heat strokes, on a daily basis, with the instances increasing as mercury levels soar.

Dr M Raja Rao, superintendent of Gandhi Hospital, told TNIE, “There have been four to five cases of severe sunstroke on a weekly basis for the last month due to severe heat waves. We also have patients on a daily basis in the OPD with complaints of heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and other symptoms. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported so far.”

According to Dr K Shankar, superintendent of Government Fever Hospital in Nallakunta, the hospital is recording two to three cases of heat-related illnesses in the OPD on a daily basis, although without any serious symptoms. Private hospitals in the city also noted a considerable increase in the number of people suffering sunstroke or other heat-related illnesses in April and the first week of May, especially in the last three weeks when the temperatures peaked.

Sunstroke can also happen indoors, says doctor

Dr G Navodaya, consultant in internal medicine at a leading private hospital in the city, said that for the last two weeks, at least three out of five patients had come to the OPD due to heat-related illnesses.

“Patients come with varied presentations of heat stroke symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, headache, high fever, exhaustion, dullness, cold and cough, tiredness, muscle cramps, joint pains, etc. The biggest misconception that people have, in general, is that staying indoors cannot lead to a heat stroke. But what is important to understand is that environmental temperatures are the major reason for a heat-related illness. Therefore, staying in a cool environment as much as possible is crucial to avoid a heat stroke,” Dr Navodaya told TNIE.

Viable condition for growth of infections

While doctors and patients have been grappling with heat exhaustion and related symptoms, doctors cautioned that sudden rains and a drop in temperatures also create suitable conditions for air, water, and food-borne infections.

Dr Rahul Agrawal, head of department (Internal Medicine) at a local hospital and an infectious diseases specialist, expressing concern over a sharp drop in temperatures, said, “Intermittent rain showers are welcome, but these weather conditions also become suitable for viral infections. Upper respiratory tract infections, throat infections, flu, skin infections, and other water-borne diseases like chikungunya can be more likely to increase with the rains and cooler temperatures. In addition, stagnated water pools also become breeding grounds for other vector-borne diseases, so extreme care must be taken to keep the surroundings clean.”

People with comorbid conditions including diabetes, children and the elderly, people with liver and heart conditions, and kidney patients need to be more careful, the doctor added.

In addition, staying hydrated, avoiding caffeinated beverages, avoiding excess exposure to heat, maintaining hand hygiene, water, and food hygiene could save from any potential risks of infections and sunstroke, the doctors stressed.

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