Residents Advised to Take Precautions for Heat Safety

Doha, 18 June 2012: With temperatures rising in Qatar, it is important to prioritize heat safety and observe precautions to prevent heat-related illness, according to Dr Saad Abdulfattah Al-Nuaimi, Senior Consultant at the Emergency Department of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). “Heat-related illnesses, such as heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, depend on the duration of exposure and the temperatures exposed to. These illnesses can range from a mild, simple condition which can be treated at home, to a lifethreatening condition that requires emergency medical care,” Dr Al-Nuaimi explained. “In Qatar, the hot season started in late May. From June to the beginning of September, we might have between 5-15 cases daily of heat-related illness. Most of the patients treated at the Emergency Department are suffering from heat exhaustion, a stage before heat stroke,” said Dr Al-Nuaimi. “A few of the patients, if neglected at the scene or not treated early enough, will be progressing to heat stroke, in which there will be damage to the central nervous system.” Dr Al-Nuaimi advises the following precautions in order to prevent heat-related illness:

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Increase fluid intake to stay hydrated and replenish water your body loses due to excessive sweating. Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol, as these can cause you to lose more body fluids. Eat small snacks throughout the day; avoid heavy meals and hot food as these can increase the body temperature. Salty snacks and fruit juices can help replenish the salts and minerals lost through excessive sweating. If you have a chronic illness and are already on a low-salt diet, however, you will need to consult your doctor regarding the amount of salt you can safely consume. Stay indoors in a cool place as much as possible. Avoid going out between 10am and 3pm as the temperature is usually at its peak during this time. Schedule outdoor activities such as sports in the early morning or evening hours when it is cooler. If you need to go outdoors, it is best to stay or rest often in shady areas. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, applied about 30 minutes before exposure to the sun. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Buddy system (or having someone accompany you) is also advised when you have to stay or work in a hot environment. Heat-related illness can sometimes progress so rapidly that you may suddenly become drowsy or unconscious, so it is helpful to have someone around and aware of the situation. During exercise, drink two to four glasses of water or other cool, non-alcoholic fluids per hour. If you exercise outdoors, start slowly to allow your body to acclimatize to the hot weather. If you start having a fast or strong heartbeat and are feeling tired, stop exercising for that day, rest in the shade and take plenty of fluids. Never leave infants, children or pets unattended in a parked car, as temperatures can rapidly rise inside the vehicle. Check frequently on people at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness, such as elderly people, young children and babies, and those who are obese or who have
Tel: (+974) 44395241 Fax: (+974) 44395002 P.O.Box 3050 Doha, Qatar www.hmc.org.qa

chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or other co-morbidities. -EndsFact Sheet

Heat-related Illnesses: Symptoms and First Aid Treatment
Heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms caused by exposure to high heat and humidity, resulting in loss of fluids and electrolytes. Adequate intake of fluids and salty snacks can help prevent heat cramps. What to do: If you suspect heat cramps, stop exercising or working in hot weather. Rest in a cool, shady area and take plenty of cool drinks. Heat syncope usually happens to those who exercise or stand for a long time in a hot environment, becoming dehydrated and developing a fainting attack. What to do: Move the person to a cooler, shaded area; make him lie down and let him slowly drink an adequate amount of fluids. If symptoms persist, the person should be immediately brought to the Emergency Department. Heat exhaustion is when the body’s temperature control system fails due to exposure to high temperatures (e.g. above 35ºC) and humidity. Symptoms include heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and occasionally vomiting, but usually consciousness is retained. Body temperature might be 38-39ºC. What to do: Move the person to a cooler area. Remove or loosen clothing and give him a cool shower or alcohol bath. Give him plenty of cool drinks; you can also give some salty snacks. People experiencing mild heat exhaustion can visit their Primary Healthcare Center, while those with moderate to severe symptoms such as drowsiness or losing consciousness should be brought to the Emergency Department, as well as cases where symptoms persist for more than one hour after first-aid treatment, or where the person has co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity. Heat stroke (or sunstroke) is the extreme stage of heat exhaustion. The person will have a very high body temperature usually exceeding 40ºC, increased pulse rate, headache, dizziness, fainting, nausea, and may also have vomiting, and sometimes convulsions or coma. What to do: First-aid treatment is the same as in heat exhaustion, but the person should immediately be transported to the Emergency Department. If the person has nausea or is vomiting, make him lie in a lateral position (on one side) so he can expel the vomit and avoid aspirating it into his respiratory tract. If he has convulsions, make sure he is away from things that could cause injury such as fire or electricity.

Heat rash occurs when due to excessive sweating, sweat glands or ducts become obstructed, resulting in red pimples or blisters which usually affect the neck, upper chest, the area below the breast, in the armpit, in the elbow, and in the groin. What to do: Avoid further exposure to heat and humidity. Keep the affected area dry and apply dusting powder. Avoid any ointments or creams, which can further block the sweat glands and worsen the condition. Sunburn is usually a first-degree burn which causes some redness and pain in the skin. What to do: Sunburn is best prevented and healed by avoiding sun exposure, especially for fair-skinned people, and using sun creams. If the sunburn becomes very painful and blisters appear, seek medical advice.

About HMC: Hamad Medical Corporation is the premier non-profit healthcare provider in Qatar. It was established by Emiri decree in 1979 and manages eight highly specialized hospitals, namely, Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Women’s Hospital, the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR), Heart Hospital, Al Wakra Hospital, The Cuban Hospital and Al Khor Hospital. Since its establishment, HMC has rapidly developed medical facilities capable of providing state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of diseases that previously could only be managed in overseas medical centers. HMC prides itself in providing quality and cost-efficient healthcare for all patients regardless of nationality, in line with the State of Qatar’s pledge of “Health for All”. For this purpose, the Corporation implements a policy of continuous improvement of all management systems and patient care protocols. HMC’s ethos is based on three key pillars which are Health, Education and Research. For more information about HMC please visit www.hamad.qa.

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