Pre­vent heat-in­duced ill­ness as weather heats up

Broome Advertiser - - NEWS - Dr Emma Mar­shall Dr Emma Mar­shall is a GP at the Broome Med­i­cal Clinic.

Wel­come to this month’s health mat­ters. With the wet sea­son ap­proach­ing I thought we’d talk about heat ex­po­sure and heat stroke.

Both heat ex­haus­tion and heat stroke are caused by a mild-ex­treme el­e­va­tion in body tem­per­a­ture which is nor­mally con­trolled by sweat­ing. Sweat­ing al­lows a per­son to cool through evap­o­ra­tion. How­ever, once a per­son be­comes too de­hy­drated to sweat, the body tem­per­a­ture can rise rapidly and dra­mat­i­cally.

Things like hu­mid­ity can also pre­vent a sweat from evap­o­rat­ing. This re­sults in the body be­ing un­able to cool ef­fec­tively, re­sult­ing in a heatin­duced ill­ness. This is why in the wet sea­son we need to be aware of our body tem­per­a­ture.

Heat ex­haus­tion is likely to oc­cur when a per­son’s body tem­per­a­ture rises above 37C but be­low 40C. Heat stroke is the most se­ri­ous form of heatre­lated ill­nesses and oc­curs when the body tem­per­a­ture is higher than 40C. Both heat ex­haus­tion and heat stroke present in very dif­fer­ent ways.

Heat ex­haus­tion

Heavy sweat­ing and di­lated pupils are the main signs.

Peo­ple will com­plain of ex­treme tired­ness, feel­ing faint/dizzy, headaches and nau­sea. Oc­ca­sion­ally, peo­ple can col­lapse.

Heat ex­haus­tion is man­aged by ly­ing down, loos­en­ing cloth­ing, moist­en­ing skin with a moist cloth, cool­ing the per­son by fan­ning and giv­ing the per­son some­thing cool to drink.

Heat stroke

Dry skin, rapid shal­low breath­ing, rapid pulse, trou­ble speak­ing or con­cen­trat­ing and con­stricted pupils are the main signs of heat stroke.

Peo­ple will com­plain of ver­tigo, con­fu­sion, headaches, thirst, nau­sea and cramp­ing. Heat stroke can be very se­ri­ous and needs to be med­i­cally re­viewed.

If you are wor­ried about heat stroke con­tact your GP or ED. Place the per­son in a cool en­vi­ron­ment, moisten the skin with a damp cloth, ap­ply wrapped ice packs to the neck, groin and armpits.

Young chil­dren, the el­derly, peo­ple with kid­ney, heart or cir­cu­la­tion prob­lems, and di­a­bet­ics on in­sulin are at greater risk of heat stroke and as­so­ci­ated com­pli­ca­tions.

This wet sea­son re­mem­ber preven­tion is bet­ter than cure. To pre­vent heat-in­duced ill­ness:

Drink plenty of wa­ter — re­mem­ber, drinks like tea, cof­fee and al­co­hol will add to de­hy­dra­tion. The body loses about 2.5 to 3 litres of wa­ter a day — if its hot, more. So re­mem­ber to drink.

Wear light­weight, light­coloured and loose fit­ting cloth­ing, prefer­ably made from a fab­ric that al­lows heat to evap­o­rate and your body to breathe.

Fol­low “slip, slop, slap, seek and slide”.

Limit phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and time spent out­doors — or try and be out be­fore 10am and after 4pm.

Some other things to re­mem­ber as the weather starts to heat up:

Never leave chil­dren or pets in cars.

Keep up en­ergy lev­els with nour­ish­ing foods, fruit and veg­eta­bles.

Ba­bies less than six months old should be kept out of di­rect sun­light.

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