Saturday June 25, 2022

DHO ICT issues heatwave advisory for general public

May 16, 2022

Islamabad : Office of the District Health Officer Islamabad at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has issued a detailed heatwave advisory for the general public asking individuals to take immediate necessary measures as the mortality and morbidity attributable to heatstroke may increase because the months from May to July are extremely hot in Pakistan and are coupled with heatwaves due to Global Warming and Climate Change.

Advisory issued by the DHO ICT Dr. Muhammad Zaeem Zia states that heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise up to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

Common clinical features of heat stroke include profuse sweating or the absence of sweating with hot red or flushed dry skin, weakness/lethargy, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, hallucinations, confusion/dizziness, and slurred speech, explains Dr. Zaeem.

The advisory states that infants, elderly persons, athletes, and outdoor workers are at high risk for heat stroke. Heat/sun stroke is a preventable condition. Common preventive measures include: Avoid going outside during the hottest time of the day. Avoid strenuous physical activity if you can. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 04:00 AM and 07:00 AM. Stay in the shade.

Do not leave children or animals in parked vehicles. Drink plenty of water while limiting time in direct sunlight in hot/humid weather or in places with high environmental temperatures, avoid becoming dehydrated and refrain from vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather, states the advisory.

The heatwave advisory further suggests that persons working under the sun should prevent dehydration and heat stroke by taking time out of the sun and drinking plenty of water/fluids. The patients should avoid caffeine and sugar-containing soft drinks and/or tea, which may exacerbate dehydration.

Consume salty foods, use an umbrella, and wear hats, light colored, light and loose-fitting clothes during the hot/humid environmental conditions, said the DHO.

Keep the body cool and hydrated by taking cool showers or baths during a heatwave. You can also use cold packs and wraps, towels, sponging, and foot baths to keep cool. The advisory states that if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious, or have intense thirst and headache during a heatwave, it is best to move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature. Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate.

Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms, or abdomen), and drink oral rehydration solutions (ORS) containing electrolytes. Medical attention is needed if heat cramps last for more than one hour. Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist. It is important to drink fluids.

The heatwave advisory suggests that victims of heat stroke must receive immediate treatment/management. The following steps are recommended.

If a person shows symptoms of a heat stroke, call a doctor/ambulance immediately. While waiting for help, move the person to a shady area/cool place, put him or her in a horizontal position and elevate legs and hips, remove unnecessary clothing and initiate external cooling, for example, by placing cold packs on the neck, armpits and groin, fanning continuously and spraying the skin with water at 25–30 degree centigrade. Measure the body temperature. Do not give acetylsalicylic acid or paracetamol. Position an unconscious person on his or her side. Contact the nearby emergency services immediately as severe cases often require hospitalization and intravenous rehydration.

If the patient is able to drink liquids, he/she should be given plenty of cool water in a sitting position. Maintain intravenous fluids and hospitalize if required. Monitor the body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops from 101°F to 102°F. Antipyretics may be given once the body temperature drops to 101°F or below, states the advisory.