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July 5, 2019

Severe heat wave poses life threatening disorders


July 5, 2019

Rawalpindi: A severe heat wave hitting population in this region of the country for days may pose serious health threats to general public including heat stroke and heat exhaustion if individuals do not take necessary measures to avoid exposure to high heat.

The severe heat spell expected to prevail in the region for another few days may cause heavier burden of patients with heat-related disorders on both the public and private sector healthcare facilities. The public sector hospitals in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi including Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences and allied hospitals have already started receiving significant number of patients with serious illnesses related to exposure to extreme hot weather conditions.

The allied hospitals in town including Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital have been receiving nearly a hundred patients per day on average including children and adults with heat related disorders caused by exposure to high temperatures.

The PIMS has already received over 300 patients with heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat syncope though no patient with sunstroke also known as heatstroke has been reported at the hospital so far.

According to Head of Department of Infectious Diseases at HFH Dr. Muhammad Mujeeb Khan who had served as Director Emergency at BBH, the most important thing at the time is to create awareness among public on how to avoid health threats, the severe heat wave poses.

He said few simple measures can help you prevent both heat exhaustion and life-threatening heat stroke. One must keep in mind that heat stroke may happen after only a short time in high temperatures but heat exhaustion results from days of exposure to high heat and can progress to heat stroke. Heat waves, longer periods of hot weather, makes one ill more slowly and make it harder for one to realize the seriousness of symptoms, he said.

He said to avoid complications, the exposure to heat can cause one should take serious notice of how one feels each day during a heat wave. Heavy sweating with cool, clammy skin, fatigue, nausea and fainting are general symptoms of heat exhaustion and one having these symptoms must report to the nearest healthcare facility, he said.

Medically, heat exhaustion can be defined as a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It is one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.

Health experts say whether it is a single hot day or a heat wave, one should follow measures to stay cool and safe. One must avoid vigorous physical activity, caffeine and alcohol in high heat and stay hydrated by drinking water and taking fluids containing electrolytes and choose a cooler environment.

According to Deputy Director at PIMS Dr. Waseem Ahmed Khawaja, one should wear light-coloured, lightweight clothing during hot weather conditions as light-coloured clothing reflects the sun’s rays, rather than absorbing them like dark clothing. People should avoid going outside particularly during the hottest hours of the day from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, he said.

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