This Summer: Prevent Heat-Related Diseases

By Medical Expert Team

Jul 25 , 2016 | 2 min read

Recent showers have slightly brought mercury down, however, the heat wave has been causing deaths that are reported everyday in the newspapers. Humidity has increased sharply making things worse. Heat cramps and heat syncope are relatively minor illness, which can be easily managed by adequate hydration with fluids, cool temperatures or cool showers and avoiding re-exposure for next couple of days.

Below are few pointers that you can always fall on:

Things to keep in mind

  • It takes 10 to 14 days to get acclimatised to high temperature
  • Increased sweating is the most important protective mechanism of body to get acclimatised 
  • Elderly and small children are most predisposed to heat-related illness
  • People working in close-hot environment such as kitchen, furnaces or building workers and military recruits are also at risk
  • People with chronic heart illness, mental illness and extensive skin disorders are vulnerable groups
  • Many medications for psychiatric, heart attack and skin related disorders promote vulnerable

Health disorders caused due to heat exposure

  • Heat rash: Look like cluster of pimples or blisters caused by excessive sweating; most common in children


  • Heat cramps: Painful muscles, spasm in legs, arms or abdomen; most likely in young people exercising and working in hot environment


  • Heat syncope: Sudden fainting after exposure to high temperature particularly due to exercising or standing in the heat. It can occur both in young adults and elderly. However, body temperature does not increase.


  • Heat exhaustion: Individual may feel thirsty, giddy, nauseous, uncoordinated, weak and sweaty with thready pulse with increased temperature. Rectal temperature does not exceed 103 - 104 degree F. This is a warning that body is getting too hot. A person can be given first aid for minor heat syndromes, however, they should seek consultation.


  • Heat stroke: Can be life threatening, if not immediately handled. Rectal temperature rapidly increases to more than 104 degree F. A person may get confused, combative, delirious or unconscious, usually with dry flushed skin, breathlessness, rapid pulse and low blood pressure, hence should be rushed to the hospital. During transport, the patient should be cooled by water sponging all over their body. Ice packs over groin, armpits and neck should be administered as it helps to bring the body temperature down. No oral fluids should be given as often patients have determinate consciousness. 

Tips to prevent heat-related illnesses  

  • Avoid or limit staying outdoors between 10 am to 4 pm
  • Remember high humidity with high temperature are worst than dry heat
  • Wear loose fitting, light coloured cotton clothes
  • Step up fluid intake all day long; don’t be guided by thirst. Drink approximately two glasses of fluid — 30 minutes before leaving and a glass every 15 minutes when outdoors. Passing pale urine every two-four hours is a good guide
  • Coffee, aerated drinks, sugary beverages and alcohol should be avoided
  • Fluids should include extra salt and small amount of sugar, nimboo pani (Lemonade), coconut water, lassi, juices, ORS, mango panna, etc. Also fruits with large water content, such as watermelon, are good to have
  • Consult your doctor regarding fluid and salt intake, and medications, if you have these restrictions
  • Never leave children in parked cars, even for a short time
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats or use umbrellas
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Take frequent breaks under shade or in air-conditioned environment. Remember, fans do not cool when temperature crosses 40 degree Celsius unless water poured
  • Drink three-four glasses fluids two hours before and two glasses 30 minutes before going out to play. Continue drinking one glass after frequent intervals
  • Take rest frequently under the shade or pour water on yourself

Read More - Impact of Heat Waves on Children’s Health

Written by:

Medical Expert Team