Hamad Medical Cooperation’s (HMC) Emergency Department has treated an average of ten people per week for heat exhaustion in the month of May. The numbers are expected to increase five to 10 per day between July and September, says a senior official.
However, the heat strokes are rare and an average two patients are expected in a month, said Senior Consultant at the Emergency Department of HMC, Dr Saad Abdulfattah Al Nuaimi.
The number of patients seeking treatment for heat-related illness was reduced this year due to the Ministry of Labour ban on working in the open from 11am to 3pm during the peak summer months.
“In May, heat exhaustion cases numbered about ten per week. From June through September the expected number is five to ten cases per day,” said Dr Al Nuaimi, explaining that official statistics for June will be released in late July.
“Heat-related illness can range from a mild, simple condition which can be treated at home, to a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care. It depends on the length of time you are exposed to heat as well as the temperatures you are exposed to,” he said. With the rising temperatures in the country HMC advises residents to prioritise heat safety and take important precautions to avoid heat-related illness.
People are advised to increase fluid intake to stay hydrated and replenish water the body loses due to excessive sweating. Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol, as these can cause lose more body fluids.
It’s also suggested to eat small snacks throughout the day; avoid heavy meals and hot food as these can increase the body temperature. Salty snacks and fruit juices can help replenish the salts and minerals lost through excessive sweating. If you have a chronic illness and are already on a low-salt diet, however, you will need to consult your doctor regarding the amount of salt you can safely consume. Stay indoors in a cool place as much as possible. Avoid going out between 10am and 3pm as the temperature is usually at its peak during this time.
“Heat-related illness can sometimes progress so rapidly that you may suddenly become drowsy or unconscious, so it is helpful to have someone around who is aware of the situation. During exercise, drink two to four glasses of water or other cool, non-alcoholic fluids per hour. If you exercise outdoors, start slowly to allow your body to acclimatize to the hot weather. If you experience strong heartbeat and feel tired stop exercising for that day, rest in the shade and take plenty of fluids. Never leave infants, children or pets unattended in a parked car, as temperatures can rapidly rise inside the vehicle. Check frequently on people at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness, such as elderly people, young children and babies, and those who are obese or who have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or other co-morbidities,” Al Nuaimi added.
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