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Every  year, we are faced with the looming threat of diseases and conditions that are unique to our very hot summer days. That’s why, it is imperative that we take certain precautions to keep health problems, caused by these types of ill-health, at bay. So, what are the most common diseases and conditions of summer?

Heat stroke

This is a common summer condition, which if left untreated, can be fatal. Heat stroke is a rise in body temperature when you are exposed to very hot weather and the burning sun.

Some of the symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Rapid pulse
  • High body temperature
  • Mental confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps

You can prevent heat stroke by staying indoors, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., wear clothes that cover your body, head and face. And drink lots of water and other fluids. Staying hydrated is imperative.

Sunburn

This condition is the result of burns caused to living tissue, such as the skin, because of  overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Some of the symptoms of sunburn include:

  • Red or reddish skin that actually feels like it’s burning up
  • The area of the burn will feel raw, painful and have an angry rash
  • Mild dizziness
  • Fatigue

If your skin gets burnt regularly or further exposed to the UV rays, it may cause skin cancer. To protect yourself from sunburn, apply a strong sun screen lotion on the exposed areas of your body 20 minutes before going out.

Prickly heat

Prickly heat is result of the weather being too humid and hot. It could also be caused by sweat glands getting clogged. Prickly heat (which shows up as an itchy, angry rash), can be relieved by applying corn starch or prickly heat powder on areas that are affected or  in places that are likely to sweat more than the rest of the body. If symptoms persist despite treatment, consult your GP.

 Food poisoning

Food can spoil quickly due to excessive heat in summer. Hot, humid weather provides a fertile environment for bacterial growth leading to food contamination and spoilage.

To prevent food poisoning:

  • Always put leftover food inside the fridge
  • Food must be well-cooked to stop it from getting spoiled
  • Make sure that food doesn’t smell bad while buying it
  • Ensure that frozen food has not started to thaw out before purchasing it

Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is common in summer because food spoils quickly. Eating spoilt and contaminated food and unsafe water can lead to diarrhoea. Make sure that you drink water only after boiling or filtering it and wash vegetables thoroughly before eating or cooking them.

Dehydration

One of the commonest problems that occur in really hot weather when your water intake does not make up for water loss via sweating, exercise or just physical activity. During the summer, we can lose a lot of water and salts in the form of sweat without realizing it. For the body to function normally, we need to replenish this loss. Headaches in summer are common as a result of dehydration.

Chickenpox

This virus flourishes in warm weather and is very infectious – particularly for children. It shows up as red, itchy rash that affects the whole body, accompanied by fever. Affected people should be quarantined at home for the duration of the actively infectious period. Symptoms may be alleviated by soothing, medicated lotions as prescribed by the doctor.

Protection against the summer heat

  • Drink plenty of water and increase fluid intake – with coconut water, buttermilk and lemon water - to keep yourself hydrated. Ensure you have at least 10-12 glasses of liquids during the day
  • Wear loose fitting, light coloured clothes - dark coloured clothes absorb more heat and tight clothes prevent the body from sweating. Choose light, natural and absorbent materials such as cotton.
  • Never leave a child in a car exposed to the hot sun -  park your vehicle in the shade, when possible
  • Wash hands thoroughly and follow general hygiene rules while handling food. Wash hands every time after visiting the washroom
  • Avoid eating under cooked and street food
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumber, sugarcane, and mangoes
  • Keep windows closed during extra hot hours, like in the afternoon, to stop the heat getting trapped indoors
  • Keep stocks of oral rehydration solution handy. Sachets are readily available for these. You can prepare them at home too - a litre of boiled and cooled water, half a teaspoon of salt and six level teaspoons of sugar. Keep sipping this during the day to stay hydrated.
  • Apply mosquito repellent and avoid mosquito breeding places

BY THIYAGARAJAN VELAYUTHAM, FOUNDER, IHHC | 8TH MARCH, 2019

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