Dubai: Temperatures are soaring. Health authorities have been issuing advisories to residents on how they can stay cool.
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) issued summer guidelines for 2023 last week, so, if you are thinking about what changes you should be making to your diet, lifestyle and everyday schedule, here are eight things you should keep in mind.
1. Before you travel, check health regulations
Firstly, if you are planning to travel, make sure you have done the necessary research of the summer heat expected at your destination as well as any health precautions you need to take. DHA also advised residents to visit the Traveller’s Clinic, which is operated by the authority, where people can receive pre-travel medical services such as vaccinations, risk assessment and travel advice.
How to book an appointment? Call the DHA hotline on 800 342 to book an appointment. You will first receive an online consultation with a doctor, after which the doctor will prescribe any vaccines that you may need to take before you travel. The vaccines can be taken at DHA health centres.
Cost: Dh150 + vaccination fees, as applicable
2. Eat foods with a high water content
During the summer period, the body needs to eat food that contains high water content, such as:
• Raw fruits and vegetables
• Cold juices (without added sugar)
• Ice cream made of fresh fruits
• Lean meats
On the other hand, DHA advised people to avoid or minimise the following types of foods:
• Deep fried
• Fast foods
• Soft drinks, as they contain high sugars
• Sweets and sugar
• Canned foods, as they contain excess amount of salt
3. Get enough sleep
If you have a tendency to not sleep for enough number of hours each day, these missed hours of sleep can add up over time and severely affect your mental health, cognitive abilities as well as physical health.
This phenomenon of consistently missing out on getting all the hours of sleep in a day is referred to as sleep debt, which can also exacerbate chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart conditions.
While adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every day, according to the US-based nonprofit, Sleep Foundation, the needs for children are different. They require a different sleep schedule, as their sleep requirements differ greatly depending on their age. For example, while newborns may require 14 to 17 hours of sleep every day, school-aged children may need anywhere between nine to 11 hours of sleep. If you are especially interested in finding out how to calculate the number of hours your child should sleep in a day, read our detailed guide here.
According to DHA, the summer season makes it harder for people to get a good night’s sleep. At night, your core body temperature decreases by two or three degrees to initiate sleep. As the temperature in the air around you drops, your core temperature also drops, making it easier to sleep. This is why it is important to set up your room in a way that it assists you in not just getting the sufficient number of hours of sleep, but also have a better quality of sleep.
4. Stay active
Regular physical activity is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk for chronic disease and to improve your quality of life. It will make you feel and function better, and it will lead to improved sleep patterns. It also reduces anxiety.
If you are not someone who enjoys going to the gym and would rather play a game of football or basketball, there are several indoor options including the Dubai Sports World or the Abu Dhabi Summer Sports facility offers sports lovers the option to play football and cricket indoors, along with other indoor activities like paddle tennis and volleyball
You can also enjoy night swimming at three beaches in Dubai, which have the necessary facilities.
5. Use sunscreen
If you are not in the habit of wearing sunscreen every day, now would be the time to start. Sunscreen can help reduce the risk of skin cancer, as well as signs of aging and limit the appearance of sunspots. It also protects the skin from sunburn.
6. Do these 4 things to keep cool
High temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat exhaustion to heat stroke. The following tips can help you keep cool:
• Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing.
• Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water after coming from outside.
• Wearing hats or caps also can prevent from extreme heat and direct sunlight.
• Drink plenty of water during the day - around eight to 12 cups of water.
Different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated, according to DHA. Benefits of drinking adequate amount of water includes prevention of:
• high blood pressure
• dry cough
• dry skin
(Your weight in kilos) x 0.033 = water in litres
“The calculation may differ as some people may be at risk of both dehydration and over hydration, depending on their health conditions, medications, loss of muscle mass, reduction in kidney function, and other factors, so consult your doctor to calculate your daily water requirement,” the DHA guide states.
7. Children and accidents
Did you know that children’s bodies heat up faster than adults? According to a study published in the Scientific American, children have more trouble regulating temperature than adults do, which is why children are more susceptible to heat illness than adults are — even more so when they are on the athletic field, living without air conditioning, or waiting in a parked car.
So, while the summer school holidays can be fun, it is important that parents take safety measures and precautions inside and outside the home to protect their children from minor and serious injuries.
8. Mental Health
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is one of the most common health problems that someone may experience because of seasonal changes - it is a type of depression that occurs during certain seasons of the year, whether from late spring to early summer or from late autumn to early winter months.
According to the DHA, the increasing heat and humidity may cause some biological changes that affect brain chemistry, as well as feelings of discomfort and the desire to stay at home to escape from the intense heat where the air conditioning can be turned on. All this may cause a feeling of social isolation, laziness and unwillingness to do any activity. Any of these things can contribute to summer depression.
Also, the changes in daily routines, such as changes in bedtime and meal times as a result of vacations, school or university holidays, or financial worries that may be caused by travel plans, can lead to feelings of anxiety that can sometimes turn into summer depression.
Treatments fall into four main categories that may be used alone or in combination:
• Light therapy or phototherapy
• Antidepressant medications
• Vitamin D
Talk to your healthcare provider about which treatment or combination of treatments is best for you.