Heat wave is defined based on the temperature thresholds in a region in terms of the actual temperature. In India, if the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40 °C or more for flat areas and at least 30 °C or more for hilly areas, then the heat wave is defined. according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) the heat wave in India takes place from March to June and in some regions even in July. While the peak month of the heat wave over India is considered to be May.
While anyone can suffer from heat-related illness at any time, some people, including infants and children up to the age of 4, those over 65, the obese and the physically ill, are at greater risk than others. To counteract the effect of a heat wave, it is therefore important to seek expert advice.
according to Doctors at Kailash HospitalNoida, the impact of heat waves on health typically includes dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunstroke and acute cerebrovascular accidents.
heat cramps is a type of heat-related disease that usually occurs in the leg and abdominal muscles. The symptoms include painful cramps, profuse sweating, red and moist skin, etc.
- To get rid of heat cramps, one should move to a cool or shady place. Applying firm pressure or gentle massage to cramped muscles can be helpful for spasms.
heat exhaust is the middle layer of the disease caused by the heat wave. It can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. This may include symptoms of heavy sweating, weakness, headache, vomiting, fainting, etc.
- Measures that can reduce heat exhaustion include cool showers, cold rooms, lightweight clothing, and plenty of rest.
sunstroke kicks in when the body cannot control its temperature and the temperature rises to 106°F (40°C) or higher. In this condition, the body temperature rises rapidly, the sweat mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. The patient may also develop nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, dry skin (no sweating), strong pulse, headache, change in mental status, and a possibility of unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a type of serious medical emergency and delay in such a condition can be life threatening.
- For emergency medical assistance, call an ambulance and take the victim to it Kailash hospital immediately.
Before the first responder arrives from the chain of care, the attendant should move the heat wave victim to a cooler environment and try a cool bath or sponge to lower body temperature. Please note that the patient with heat stroke should not be given fluids.
Heat wave prevention:
Here are five key measures you should take to minimize the impact of the heat wave:
1) Do not go out in the sun, especially between noon and 3 pm. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose, and porous cotton clothing. Use safety goggles, umbrella/hat, shoes or sleeping bags when going out in the sun.
2) During hot weather, you should increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. For rehydration of the body, you can use a lot of fluids such as water, ORS, homemade drinks like Lassi, Torani, Lemon water, Buttermilk, etc.
3) Avoid strenuous activities and workouts in the afternoon. If you work outside, use a hat or an umbrella and also use a damp cloth for your head, neck, face and limbs.
4) Try to keep your living space cool, use curtains, shutters or an awning. Try to take cool showers regularly, wet your hands, face and neck, use wet blankets.
5) Drink plenty of water as often as possible. Use fans, coolers, damp clothing and take cold water baths regularly. Provide plenty of fresh water for pets and leave water for them in a shaded area.
Dr. Sanjay Mahajan
sr. Advisor Physician & Intensivist
DNB (Med), MNAMS