Heatwaves are becoming more common, more intense, and lasting longer than ever before due to climate change, with possibly deadly consequences.
There have been numerous records broken during the recent heatwave in India. The national capital of Delhi experienced the second hottest April in 72 years, while March was estimated to be the hottest month in 122 years.
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are just a few of the life-threatening health problems brought on by India's current severe temperatures.
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What does extreme heat do to our bodies?
In response to extreme temperatures, the human body produces sweat and dilates the blood vessels in the skin.
More heat can be lost to the environment by increasing blood flow to the skin. When sweat dries off the skin, the body is cooled. In order to keep metabolic processes functioning normally, it is required to keep the core body temperature between 36°C and 37°C.
However, they may also have adverse effects. Lower blood pressure from dilated blood arteries causes the heart to pump blood around the body more forcefully. This may result in heart attacks in those who already have a heart problem.
The body might lose salt as a result of excessive sweating. In severe cases, low blood salt levels can cause headaches and nausea.
What is heatstroke?
Medical experts state that the most severe heat-related illness is heatstroke. The World Health Organization website states that it happens when the body temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius and can result in organ failure, hospitalisation, and even death.
The most severe heat-related illness is heatstroke. The World Health Organization website states that it happens when the body temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius and can result in organ failure, hospitalisation, and even death.
According to the Bureau of Medical Administration, a division of China's National Health Commission, it happens when the body is subjected to an environment with high temperatures and humidity levels or when engaging in vigorous physical activity. As a result, the body is unable to regulate its temperature.
Heatstroke is considered quite deadly, with a high mortality rate.
What are the signs of heatstroke?
Lethargy, seizures, coma, hallucinations, inattention, memory loss, cognitive impairment, and language impairment are among the common symptoms.
Other crucial indications consist of a headache, nausea, breath shortness, an increased heart rate, or muscle aches.
Differences between heat stroke and heat exhaustion
When a person's body temperature rises above 104°F after being exposed to intense heat, they are said to be experiencing a heat stroke. Dehydration occurs along with this. According to reports, fainting is typically the first sign of heatstroke.
The condition can also cause a throbbing headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea, and vomiting. It can also cause rapid shallow breathing, a rapid heartbeat that can be strong or weak, behavioural changes like confusion or staggering, seizures, and unconsciousness.
Some of the symptoms of the two illnesses are similar, however, the difference between them is of increasing severity.
According to medical experts, a person is advised to be taken to a hospital right away if they show symptoms of a heat stroke that are not present in heat exhaustion, such as a very high body temperature, a lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, and dry skin, and rapid and shallow breathing.
Meanwhile, the person can also be moved to a cool place, preferably in a shade or in an air-conditioned space. Fanning the person repeatedly to keep their body cool is also considered helpful
The person should also be sponged with cool water, have ice packs or cool wet towels placed on their neck, and armpits, and should be covered with cool moist sheets, advises Mayo Clinic.
How to prevent and treat heatstroke?
People should minimize their exposure to excessive heat and loss of liquids, which are the main contributors to heat-related health problems.
To avoid getting dehydrated, it is also advised to consume a sufficient amount of liquids such as water, lemonade, buttermilk, rice water, and lassi. Also, avoid going outside during the hottest times of the day.
According to the India Meteorological Department, a person should consume these liquids even if they are not thirsty since the aim is to maintain proper hydration, not necessarily to quench thirst.
Some other tips include wearing loose, lightweight, light-coloured, cotton clothes and applying appropriate sunscreen. Covering of head with light-coloured scarves, caps, or umbrellas.
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