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Hot Weather & Health

Introduction

Like it or not, our life is affected by daily weather condition.

Hot and dry weather are common phenomena in tropical area like Malaysia.

Exposure to hot weather is one of the known causes contributing to increasing number clinic visit, hospital admission and eventual death from particular type of diseases, especially among high-risk groups.

Health effect of exposure to hot weather

What are heat related health problem?

Hot weather (Heat) is a physical stress on human body. The health effect varies from mild to severe form like heat stroke, which can be fatal.

Health related problems might appear at various temperatures due to;

  • Variations in clothing, work conditions, physical activity and workload.
  • Age group
  • Individual fitness

Health problems related to hot weather include;

  • Heat fatigue
  • Heat syncope
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Signs and symptoms of heat related health problem

How do I know that I’m suffering from heat related health problem?

Sign and symptom of heat related health problem varies according to severity of the problem. Common symptoms includes;

  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Poor concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting

More severe form can cause dehydration, confusion and coma.

Complication

What are the worst conditions can occur due to heat related problem?

  • Heat stroke can be fatal
  • Damage to organ like kidney, brain, heart and liver

Susceptible Group

Who’s at risk of developing heat related health problem?

All people are at risk of developing heat related health problem. However, certain groups are more susceptible to develop the health effects. The groups include;

  • People engaged in vigorous physical activities like laborers, farmer, sport men, army and others.
  • Older people (people over the age of 40 are 10 times more susceptible than young people)
  • Children below 5 years of age
  • People with respiratory and heart problem
  • People with high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and thyroid gland disease

The risk is enhanced if they are wearing thick and tight clothes, which prevent heat lost from evaporation of sweat.

Prevention

How can I prevent or minimize the effects of hot weather on my health?

“Prevention is better than cure”. Especially to those who are classified as high-risk groups, they are advisable to be aware of such possibilities.

Here are some prevention tips:

Do

  • Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Take an isotonic drink as it can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • Stay indoor
  • Limit your outdoor activities
  • Take frequent rest
  • Take bath or turn on the fan to cool your selves
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella

Don’t

  • Drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar.
  • Leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Exercise in hot day

What should I do if I have signs of heat related problem?

Remember the following tips;

  • Get out of the heat
  • Remove tight clothing
  • Apply cool wet cloths to the skin
  • Fan your self
  • Drink water every 15 minutes
  • Call for help if condition worsen

What should I do if I have muscles cramps?

  • Get out of the heat
  • Stretch the affected muscles
  • Apply ice pack
  • Drink water every 15 minutes
  • Avoid strenuous physical activities for that day

Seek medical advise immediately if you have the following warning sign:

  • Hot, dry skin, but not sweaty
  • Confusion
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
Who should I consult?

Further information can be obtained from your doctor at;

Environmental Health Unit
Disease Control Division
Ministry of Health Malaysia

http://www.lapdonline.org/bldg_safer_comms/prevention/hot.htmhttp://familydoctor.org/088.xml

http://www.parasolemt.com.au/Manual/environmentconditions.asp

 

Last Reviewed : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Norlen Mohamed
Reviewer : Dr. Marzida Abd Latib
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