Dubai: Health experts have sounded a note of caution to UAE residents who might think that the dusty and hazy conditions somehow make it less likely for people to get a heat stroke. In fact, hospitals across the UAE have more patients coming into emergency rooms for treatment for heat exposure as high humidity during this period makes it difficult for the body to perspire and hence cool down. The chances of heat stroke, therefore, go up.
Dr Faisal Dalvi, specialist internal medicine from Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, explained: “Humidity is the volume of moisture present in the air. Residents, especially those who work outdoors for long hours, need to be careful about high humidity levels. Usually, dry air helps evaporate our sweat and cools down the body. However, a humidity level of 50 per cent and above is considerably high.
It prevents our sweat from evaporating, trapping heat within our body and overheating it, causing heat stress. Exposure of more than a couple of hours can cause stroke. It is important to take precautions to prevent heat stroke as it can be fatal, especially in older people, pregnant women and young children,” he warned.
According to Dr Fiona Rennie, family health physician at Valiant Clinic, Dubai, every organ is effected by heat and the body goes into shutdown mode after long exposure. “The human body should maintain a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, and the optimum air temperature is between 18-24C. Any hotter and the risks of a heat stroke rise.”
Medically speaking, a body temperature of 38.5C is regarded as fever and at above 40C one is officially said to be in throes of a heat stroke. The patient experiences dehydration and loss of body salts (potassium, sodium, magnesium) which leaves him disoriented. Eventually, the organs are unable to withstand the heat and begin to shut down. Heat exhaustion is manifested through signs of dizziness, nausea, and a feverish state that induces perspiration.
Dr Rennie explained: “Once heat stroke sets in, the body stops sweating as blood flow to the skin stops. Without immediate medical attention, there can be permanent damage to vital organs, and even death.”
Both health specialists advise following the right body protection protocol to stay cool and safe this summer.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Hot, dry skin or heavy sweating
Five ways to handle heat stroke
- Take the victim in a shaded area, away from heat.
- Help him lie down on a cool surface with legs raised above the heart level to initiate proper blood circulation.
- Loosen all clothing of the affected person.
- Immediately begin cold compresses using a wet sponge to bring down body temperature.
- Give oral electrolytes gradually to replenish the loss of body salts.
Usually symptoms start to improve within 30 minutes and patient shows relief. If that does not happen, call for an ambulance. Health specialists usually administer one to two litres of IV fluids to restore the electrolyte balance.