As a heatwave takes over 800 lives in Sindh, Pakistan, the question on everyone’s minds is: how can a heatstroke be prevented?
Prevention is better than a cure.
As always, the experts say that prevention is better than a cure.
“Hydrate well at Sehri, Iftar and post-Iftar“, says Dr Baqir at Aga Khan University Hospital. “You can drink water, juice, milk and anything with water content… note that tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks are diuretics, that is, they will make you visit the bathroom more and eventually dehydrate your body.”
He adds that the elderly and sick are discouraged from fasting; if they are fasting, they must stay indoors.
The reason? The temperature outside, especially in the afternoon (around 42 degrees Celsius), is higher than our body’s temperature (37 degrees Celsius), which results in our body’s heat being trapped inside. This results in the overheating of our internal organs. Younger people are capable of withstanding such conditions, but the elderly, people with heart and/or lung problems or anyone who is not a normal, healthy adult are more vulnerable to heat stroke.
Hospitals are over-run. What to do when symptoms are detected at home?
If you take the following steps, you can avoid going to the hospital at all:
1) Immediately break the fast. Drinks lots of water and restore the body’s salts with lemon shikanjabeen or ORS.
2) Take a shower and sit facing a fan to encourage evaporation and cooling down of the body.
3) In case of extremely high fever (106-108 degrees Celsius), you can simulate cold water immersion by placing icepacks in the armpits, groin, neck and back.
4) Fever caused by heat stroke are not caused by infection, therefore do not try to treat it by taking Paracetamol. It will not work.