Summer ills: Rise in temperature lands people in hospitals

Published: May 19, 2013

Cases of heatstroke and gastroenteritis up by 15%, doctors report.

LAHORE: 

As temperatures rise above 40 degrees Centigrade, the city’s hospitals have seen a surge in cases of heatstroke and gastroenteritis.

Doctors at various public hospitals estimated that there had been a 15 per cent increase in such cases in the last few days and suggested that people take precautionary measures.

Dr Irshad Hussain Qureshi, the professor of medicine at King Edward Medical University (KEMU), said the number of patients with gastroenteritis and heatstroke had increased in Mayo Hospital in the last few days.

“Those who go out in the sun can catch heatstroke when the potassium and sodium levels fall in the body. When going out in the sun, one should cover their head and avoid exposure,” he said. “Wrapping the head and neck with a wet towel or cloth is also effective. The heat causes the moisture in the towel to evaporate, giving a cooling effect.”

He said that people should drink lots of fluids, suggesting drinks like lemonade and lassi.

Dr Shahid Malik, assistant professor of community medicine at the Institute of Public Health, said people should avoid going directly from an air-conditioned room – “though this is a rarity with all the load-shedding these days” – into the sun.

“The body is more likely to catch heatstroke if it is exposed to extreme changes in temperature, which happens when someone goes from an air-conditioned room into the sun,” he said.

Dr Muhammad Sajid, a consultant, said soaring temperatures meant food went bad quicker.

People were also more likely to consume cold drinks from unhygienic food stalls, resulting in more gastroenteritis cases.

“People get thirsty and then they buy drinks from unhygienic roadside stalls, leading to gastroenteritis. This is also the season of flies, which can spread germs by sitting on fruits cut open and displayed at fruit stalls.

Those who eat infected fruit  may get cholera or gastroenteritis. One also needs to be particularly careful about cleanliness in this season and make sure that all food is cooked properly before it is consumed,” he said.

According to the Met Office, the temperature in Lahore was 43 degrees centigrade on Saturday. There has also been a rise in power outages in the last couple of days.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.

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