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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What to know about hot weather, heatstroke and its remedies

The sun is out in its entire splendour and the heat waves can be felt in every corner of the nation.

The fits of epileptic power supplies and fuel scarcity also combine to make it an unbearable experience for Nigerians as fans and air conditioners are either underutilized or completely off on vacation.

One of the most common health risks a person can be susceptible to during times like this is heatstroke. And since prevention, they say, is always better than cure, we bring you the necessary information needed on how to stay safe in periods like these and also how to rise to the occasion, if the need arises.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke as a condition is caused when the body overheats, either due to prolonged exposure to extreme temperature or physical exertion. This condition can also be called hyperthermia and is most common in the dry season or summer time.

A person stands the risk of heatstroke, which is the most severe form of heat hazard when their body temperature hits 104F or above. If immediate care is not given, such a person could suffer fatal health complications or death.

There are two different types of heatstroke:

• Non-exertion heatstroke: this is caused when prolonged exposure to hot weather conditions spikes the body temperature. This occurs mostly in adults aged 60yrs and above, and people suffering from underlying health conditions. This type is also known as classic heatstroke

• Exertional Heatstroke: this type of heatstroke occurs when there the body becomes overheated due to toiling or working in humid conditions. Athletes, labourers, and field workers stand a high risk of this.

Symptoms of heatstroke
The first step to combating this menace is to know how it manifests. Below is a list of common signs that tells you that you might be about to suffer a heatstroke

Very high body temperature: as earlier stated, a body temperature of 104F and above means a person could be about to suffer a heatstroke.

Temporal mental disorder: someone suffering from severe heat might be thrown into a state of mental imbalance as signs like confusion, delirium, agitations, incoherent speeches, and slurred words can all be on display.

Unusual sweat pattern: heatstroke caused by exposure to hot weather temperatures can cause your skin to be hot but very dry when touched – a condition known as anhidrosis. Exertional heatstroke would however cause the skin to feel dry and slightly moist.

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Reddish skin: the body reacts to the uncomfortable weather condition as it takes on a reddish, pale look

Nausea: another possible sign could be the urge to vomit

Increased, abnormal heartbeat: as the heat becomes unbearable, the heart is saddled with the task of combating the effect of the heat on the body by trying to cool it down. This increases the pulse.

Ways to prevent heatstroke
It is much easier and expedient to keep away from harm than to forge a path back from the brinks. This is why it is important to have the following prevention tips handy, especially in a humid season like this.

Always wear light, loose-fitted clothing: to aid cooling, it is advised to keep off heavy and excessive clothing as they won’t allow the body to get the air it needs. Tight-fitted clothing and body hugs won’t suit the times as they don’t allow for spaces that aid easy airflow.

Always stay hydrated; a daily fluid intake of, at least, eight glasses of water is advised on a good day. If you can’t add a couple of extra cups to help keep your body cool during this humid season then please ensure you don’t fall below that benchmark.

Protect your skin: give your skin the cover it needs by investing in wide-brimmed hats, caps, and umbrellas which would help to shield your body from the scorching heat. Sunglasses also help to shield your eyes from the rays.

Be extra careful with parked cars: we’ve recorded an increase in heat-related deaths in children in recent times, due to the spike in the cases of parents leaving their kids behind in locked cars. Always ensure your cars are properly locked when parked to avoid kids getting inside.

Try to stay indoors as much as possible: we all have to hit the road at one time or the other to handle our business. But, in as much as we know it is nearly impossible to stay home always, it is better to stay indoors as much as you can, especially when the full wrath of the sun is out. Stay indoors or under a shade to give your body the protection it needs.

Ensure your room is well-ventilated: staying in a stuffy or poorly ventilated room is as bad or even worse than staying outside in the heat of the sun. Ensure your windows are opened to allow quality airflow.

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Cut down on the excess weight: if you are suffering from weight issues then you might want to consider cutting down on it as excessive body fat makes the body highly susceptible to overheating which increases your chances of having a heatstroke

Remedies for heatstroke
As much as we try to prevent mishaps, it, unfortunately, happens that we just can’t seem to prevent them sometimes. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to help battle heatstroke, then the few tips could be of great help.
• Get some ice packs and place them in the armpits, back, groin, and neck areas. Those areas house the veins that are closest to the blood vessels.
• Get them to a properly ventilated environment, preferably an air-conditioned room
• Immerse them in a tub filled with cold water to get their system to cool
• Get a water hose and get the water to run across their unclothed body

Heatstroke could lead to complete organ failure and, consequently – death, if not promptly tackled. Make conscious efforts to ensure that you are away from the direct heat of the sun, as much as you can. Also, endeavour to keep your rooms and indoor spaces well-ventilated all the time to be on the safe side.

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