Preventing heat related illnesses
By Halima Abba Waziri
In the last couple of days, the intense heat of the weather is causing great discomfort on people. Especially those living in the North Eastern part of the country.
Medical experts say during hot weather, diseases become more prevalent as the body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain healthy temperature.Heat related illness can range from respiratory infection, heatstroke in the elderly, sleepless nights which causes fatigue, and dehydration.
Most people find extremely hot weather and heat waves uncomfortable. some people have a higher risk than others of becoming ill.
These include: people working outdoors, the elderly, young children, people with long term health conditions, and people taking certain medications
Heat stroke as one of the related illness occurs when the body temperature is not controlled properly and it rises above 40.5 °C. Heat rash is another disease that is common during hot weather. It’s an itchy, painful rash commonly called prickly heat. it is caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather, and particularly affects young children.
Dehydration is an illness that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions, Its Symptoms include Dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, dark yellow urine, loss of appetite, and fainting.Heat cramps which usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity causes the body to lose salt and water, Its Symptoms are Muscle pains or spasms.
One of the best ways to avoid heat-related illness is to drink plenty of water. During heat season, It’s important to keep drinking water even if one doesn’t feel thirsty. Because taking water can prevent dehydration. Also, one should avoid alcoholic, hot or sugary drinks including tea and coffee because these can make dehydration worse.
Also, keeping as cool as possible by not staying long under the sun can help prevent heat-related illness. Taking cold drinks, eating smaller, and cold meals, such as salads and fruits, can also help to keep a person cool. Other things to do include wearing light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton, and taking cool showers or baths.
One can also help keep the home cool by shutting curtains and blinds during the day.
In the absence of air-conditioning units, one should go to cool places such as: library, shopping centre, cinema or swimming pool, Staying in the coolest room of the house and using stoves and ovens as little as possible also helps alot.
Children also need to be reminded to drink lots of water.
Even if the air-conditioner is on, children or animals should never be left alone in a car without anyone looking after them. If there’s need to go out under the sun, it is important to protect our skins and that of the children. Because avoiding sunburn reduces the risk of skin cancer.
Halima Abba Waziri, Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri