The El Nino weather phenomenon is here again. It is hot and dry. Getting too hot can make you sick. This includes minor conditions such as heat rash, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion as well as the more severe condition known as heat stroke which is a life threatening medical emergency.
Everyone is at risk; there are certain groups which are more susceptible to be affected by the hot weather:
• Those who are involved in outdoor activities such as outdoor workers, farmers, athletes, soldiers and police
• Children <5 years old
• Elderly people
• People with long term health condition such as heart disease, respiratory tract disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid disease
Hot weather causes a person to sweat a lot. Excessive sweating will lead to dehydration as a result of body fluid depletion. The person may feel:
• Weak concentration
• Difficulty in breathing
• Nausea or vomiting
• Muscles weakness or muscles cramps
If the above conditions stay untreated, the person may develop heat stroke which is the most serious heat-related illness, the person may develop:
• High body temperature
• Flushed and dry skin
• Rapid breathing
• Severe headache
How to take care during the hot weather?
• Drink plenty of water even if you do not feel thirsty.
• Slow down and avoid strenuous activities.
• Limit outdoor activities or avoid being outdoor for long duration especially midday when the sun is hottest.
• If unavoidable, wear a hat or umbrella to protect from extreme exposure to hot weather.
• Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing.
• Stay in a place with sufficient ventilation.
• Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
• Consider sports drinks for electrolyte replacement when sweating a lot.
• Avoid high protein food and spicy food which increase metabolic heat.
• Eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine and high sugar content fluids, which can increase water excretion.
• Never leave your children in a parked car even if the air-conditioner is on.
• Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored.
Besides the direct effects on our health, the hot weather also can cause water-, food- and vector-borne diseases as well as haze-related diseases. For example, it is expected to cause an increase in the number of dengue cases by up to 50%. Mosquitoes become more aggressive and have a shorter-than-usual life cycle in hot weather.
Therefore, public are advised to limit outdoor activities, to avoid any stagnant water that would encourage mosquitoes to breed, keep residential areas clean, maintain proper personal hygiene and avoiding water wastage where possible.
*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.