Health expert calls for public education on heat-related illness

MULTAN   –   Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Govt Shehbaz Sharif Hospital (GSSH), Dr Imran Rafiq, told media on Saturday that public education was imperative to improve prevention and early recognition of heat-related illness.

“Children and people of all age groups should be educated about heat-related disorders specifically on symptoms, prevention, cure, and risk factors,” he stressed.

He informed that individuals should take steps to reduce personal risk factors and to acclimatise exposure to hot weather conditions.

“Heat related disorders occur when extreme environmental conditions affect people who are physically active in extreme of ages or with chronic medical or psychiatric illness,” the SMO stated.

Hyperthermia, abnormally high body temperature, results from body’s inability to maintain internal normal temperature through heat loss, he said, adding that its heat source is the result of metabolic functions and environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Dr Imran Rafiq explained that risk factors include duration of exertion, exposure to heat environment, physical inactivity, insufficient acclimatisation, skin disorders and other medical condition that inhibit sweat production or evaporation, obesity and dehydration.

Sweat losses cause heat cramping, the SMO stated and added that these are replaced with water only.

Heat exhaustion results from prolonged strenuous activity with inadequate water or salt intake in a hot environment, the medic noted.

He maintained that heat stroke, which causes cerebral dysfunction and body temperature over 40 C; a life-threatening condition has the following symptoms: dizziness, weakness, blurred vision, confusion, collapse and unconsciousness.

“In this case, physical examination findings are hot skin, initially covered with perspiration and later when it dries, there is strong pulse followed by with elevated blood pressure,” Dr Rafiq concluded.

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