NIH advises measures to prevent heatstroke


ISLAMABAD: National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday issued an advisory on the prevention and treatment of heat and sun stroke in the wake of the recent temperature rise in different parts of the country.

According to NIH, the objective of this advisory was to sensitise the health care authorities to take in-time appropriate actions for preparedness and prevention of heatstroke.

In the advisory, the concerned departments have been asked to take immediate necessary measures in this regard.

It stated that heat stroke is a medical emergency and is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature is elevated dramatically and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated.

The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down; consequently, the body temperature can rise to 106ø F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes, it added.

The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism and is usually able to dissipate the heat by radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat.

However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to sufficiently dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises.

It said another cause of heat stroke is dehydration; a dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which also causes the body temperature to rise; common signs and symptoms of heat stroke include profuse sweating or the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin, weakness or lethargy, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, hallucinations, confusion or dizziness and slurred speech.

Heat stroke can cause death or permanent organ damage or disability if not properly treated in time. Infants, the elderly, athletes and outdoor workers are at high risk for heatstroke.

The NIH said that victims of heatstroke must receive immediate treatment and recommended various measures.

The patients should be moved to a shady area immediately, some of the clothing should be removed and cool tepid water is to be applied to the skin. Emergency services are to notified immediately as well, it added.

Notify the emergency services immediately as severe cases often require hospitalisation and intravenous re-hydration, it added.

The institute said that heat or sunstroke is a preventable condition and asked the health authorities to take common preventive measures.

It said the public should be educated through awareness messages to drink plenty of water while limiting time in direct sunlight in hot or humid weather.