Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

How To Beat The Heat? Dr. Badran Answers

Thu 09 Jun 2022 | 09:53 PM

Population exposure to heat is increasing due to climate change, and this trend will continue. Globally, extreme temperature events are observed to be increasing in their frequency, duration, and magnitude.

When we burn fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, we release carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 builds up in the atmosphere and causes Earth’s temperature to rise. Climate change affects human health by increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events.

Increases in the overall temperature of the atmosphere and oceans associated with climate change cause changes in wind, moisture, and heat circulation patterns.

Who is Affected?

Rising global ambient temperatures affect all populations. However, some populations are more exposed to, or more physiologically or socio-economically vulnerable to physiological stress, exacerbated illness, and an increased risk of death from exposure to excess heat. People at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to 4 years old; people 65 years of age and older; people who are overweight or have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease; people who are socially isolated; and the poor. Gender can play an important role in determining heat exposure

Heat and Health

Rapid rises in heat gain due to exposure to hotter than average conditions compromises the body’s ability to regulate temperature and can result in a cascade of illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. Body temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body cannot cool down. This condition can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

Higher temperatures and respiratory problems are also linked. One reason is because higher temperatures contribute to the build-up of harmful air pollutants.

Extended periods of high day and nighttime temperatures create cumulative physiological stress on the human body which exacerbates the top causes of death globally, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and renal disease.

Deaths and hospitalizations from heat can occur extremely rapidly (same day), or have a lagged effect (several days later) and result in accelerating death or illness in the already frail, particularly observed in the first days of heatwaves. Even small differences from seasonal average temperatures are associated with increased illness and death.

Heat also has important indirect health effects. Heat conditions can alter human behavior, the transmission of diseases, health service delivery, air quality, and critical social infrastructure such as energy, transport, and water.

Warning Signs of Heat Illness

Heat-related trouble ranges from irritating problems such as prickly heat (also known as heat rash) to heat exhaustion and the potentially deadly heat stroke. It can be hard to tell where heat exhaustion ends and heat stroke begins. Both can be mistaken for a summer "flu," at least at first. Be on the lookout for: nausea or vomiting, fatigue, headache, disorientation or confusion and muscle twitches.

Keep Your Home Cool

Aim to keep your living space cool. Check the room temperature between 08:00 and 10:00, at 13:00 and at night after 22:00. Ideally, the room temperature should be kept below 32 °C during the day and 24 °C during the night. This is especially important for infants or people who are over 60 years of age or have chronic health conditions. Use the night air to cool down your home. Open all windows and shutters during the night and the early morning, when the outside temperature is lower.

Reduce the heat load inside the house. Close windows and shutters (if available) especially those facing the sun during the day. Turn off artificial lighting and as many electrical devices as possible.

Hang shades, draperies, awnings or louvers on windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. Hang wet towels to cool down the room air. Note that the humidity of the air increases at the same time.

If your residence is air conditioned, close the doors and windows and conserve electricity not needed to keep you cool, to ensure that power remains available and reduce the chance of a community-wide outage. Electric fans may provide relief, but when the temperature is above 35 °C, may not prevent heat-related illness.

Drink More Water

Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones. Water has no calories, so it can also help with managing body weight and reducing calorie intake when substituted for drinks with calories, such as sweet tea or regular soda.

Water helps your body: keep a normal temperature, lubricate and cushion joints, protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

Your body needs more water when you are in hot climates, more physically active, running a fever and having diarrhea or vomiting.

Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day. Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long. Choose water over sugary drinks. Opt for water when eating out. You’ll save money and reduce calories. Serve water during meals. Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste. Make sure your kids are getting enough water too.

Avoid Heat

Move to the coolest room in the home, especially at night. If it is not possible to keep your home cool, spend 2–3 hours of the day in a cool place. Avoid going outside during the hottest time of the day. Avoid strenuous physical activity if you can. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 and 7:00.Stay in the shade. Do not leave children in parked vehicles.

Keep Your Body Cool

Take cool showers or baths. Alternatives include cold packs and wraps, towels, sponging, foot baths, etc. Wear light, loose-fitting clothes of natural materials. If you go outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap and sunglasses. Use light bed linen and sheets, and no cushions, to avoid heat accumulation.

Avoid spicy foods: many spices and vegetables are heat inducing such as ginger, garlic, peppercorns, onions and mustard seeds. Spicy foods make the body heat up, as a result, may cause a lot of heat-related issues along with stomach ailments.

Stick to light foods during summers. Stick with smaller meals that don’t overload your stomach. Cold soups, salads, and fruits can satisfy your hunger and give you extra fluid.

Avoid fried foods: excessive consumption of oils induces a lot of heat in the body, avoid eating a lot of fried foods. Avoid foods that are high in protein

Avoid caffeine: caffeine and alcohol also create a lot of heat in the body and should be avoided, especially in summers.

Salt: it is advised that people with excessive body heat must follow a low sodium diet to maintain body temperature. Sodium effectively creates high pressure in the body, which may aid in raising your body temperature and affect your system. On the other hand, you may require an adequate amount of salt and electrolytes if you notice a drop in blood pressure during the summer heat.