As the temperature is rising all across the country and we are looking into the peak summer period the heat can have serious side effects on three very vulnerable groups, one is children, babies and infants, the second are the elderly and the third are the people who take certain medication which decreases their ability to handle excessive heat.
Since summers are here and we have to continue our day to day activities, it is important to know the precautions one must take to avoid the ill effects of heat.
What is Heatstroke?
Heat stroke is the condition when due to excessive heat and the inability of the body to manage the heat via its natural cooling mechanism, the person becomes seriously ill.
Signs and symptoms of heatstroke in children could range from being sluggish, a dry tongue and warm body, no tears while crying and a dry skin. The chances of falling under this condition increase if the child is already suffering from loose motions and is dehydrated.
In case of elderly, due to advancing age, they are unable to handle extreme temperatures and due to this, they show signs like being drowsy, with a dry and hot skin, little or no sweating and a dry tongue.
In some cases, heatstroke can be precipitated due to a combination of a hot temperature coupled with blood pressure and heart medications. In some other cases, the use of diuretics (make the person lose body water via urination) or a kidney problem may add to the vulnerability.
How to Prevent Heatstroke?
To prevent a heat stroke, one can take several precautions
Keep the child well hydrated at all times and while travelling always keep clean water in the bag. It is also good to avoid travel if the child is suffering from loose motions.
Never leave the child in a parked car, sleeping or otherwise. The temperatures in the car can rise very rapidly to dangerous levels and the heat can be fatal.
Always cover the child with sun caps and loose cotton clothing when stepping out. In general, avoid taking small babies out during the peak heat which is 12 noon to 4 PM.
Some tips on hydration are, in small babies mothers milk is the best, followed by bottled infant milk. avoid giving sugary juices if the child is unwell. Aerated drinks are a couple No.
In Adults with Vulnerable Health
It is good to cover the head with a cloth or an umbrella. Also, carry enough water and some electrolyte pouches while travelling.
Consult with the doctor, if the medication needs dose correction during peak summers (especially the antihypertensive medicines containing diuretics)
Always wear loose cotton clothes of light colour. All synthetic clothes should be strictly avoided. Choose light colours which reflect heat and avoid black and other dark colours.
In case of a Heatstroke:
- Call the ambulance or make arrangements to take the person to the emergency ward very quickly
- In the meanwhile, make the person lie down and raise the legs up with some support (pillow or rolled sheets)
- Sponge the forehead, armpits and soles of the feet with cold water
- Continuously fan the person
- Let the person sip cool water slowly.
As published in Hindustan Times Brunch