Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has reminded the public to protect themselves and their families, especially young children and the elderly, from illnesses caused by high temperatures and humidity.
Dr Mahmoud Younis, assistant director, Health Promotion and Community Engagement with HMC’s Hamad International Training Center said the central nervous system, specifically the hypothalamus, is responsible for regulating temperature in the body.
The elderly, people taking medications that increase their sensitivity to sunlight, and individuals who are exercising or doing physical activity outdoors for long periods of time, are the most susceptible to developing a heat-related illness.
Dr Younis explained that the most serious form of heat illness, heatstroke, is a medical emergency and requires urgent treatment. Left untreated, heatstroke can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles and lead to serious long-term complications and even death.
Headaches, stomach cramps, and nausea can indicate dehydration and are often the first signs of a heat illness. Other common symptoms include muscle pain, fatigue, nervousness, flushing or redness of the skin, shortness of breath, increased heartbeat, and difficulty concentrating.
While heat exhaustion does not always lead to heatstroke, it is a warning sign and it is important to be vigilant for symptoms, said D. Younis. However, he noted that exposure to the sun can have many benefits, including boosting the body's vitamin D supply and improving bone health.
“Avoid going out between 10 am and 3 pm when the sun is usually at its hottest. Heat-related illness can progress rapidly, so any individual who is showing signs of a heat-related illness should immediately get out of the sun and into a shaded area. It is essential to lower the body temperature by removing any heavy clothing and applying a cold compress, and to rehydrate by replenishing water the body has lost due to excessive sweating,” said Dr Younis.
Dr Younis also warned about the dangers of sunburn, noting that while the redness, pain, and swelling are all signs of inflammation and can be very uncomfortable, severe sunburns can have serious long-term health complications.
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and other high-water-content foods, wearing lightweight, light-coloured, loose, clothing, sunglasses, wide-brimmed hat, and sunscreen can prevent the adverse effects of heat, said Dr Younis.
He also said that individuals who have a pre-existing medical condition should ask their doctor for advice on how to manage the heat.
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