All you need to know about the 'killer' heat stroke

HS 2 News feature by Shahjahan Khurram Video editing by: Danish Hafeez It was not more than two years ago when a killer heatwave claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people in Karachi, raising alarm bells across the country and making headlines over the world. Two years on, the city has failed to generate awareness regarding heat stroke and a few important questions yet remained unanswered. These include-- what causes a heat stroke and how can one avert it? What are the signs of a heat stroke that become apparent on a victim? Why only now, in this day and age, has this menace started claiming more lives than ever before? In order to grasp a more comprehensive understanding of the subject, we paid a visit to Civil Lines Hospital and broached Deputy Medical Superintendant Dr. Shan-e-Alam to shed light on the topic of heat wave and its potentially disastrous effects. Q1. What is a heat stroke? Ans. When the temperature increases to 40°C above, the heat affects the brain and temperature regulation of the human body. As the temperature increases, the amount of water in the human body decreases and as a result, the body’s regulation system starts to fail. The organs of the human body, the heart and mind in particular, stop shutting down as a result. Due to the humidity, respiration becomes complicated and breathing may prove to be difficult. The human then has a stroke owing to the heat. _DSC0023 Q2. Are there certain people who are more at risk from heat wave? Ans. Yes.  Patients of diabetes and heart diseases are more vulnerable to the heat stroke as opposed to other people. This is due to the fact that their immune systems are weaker as compared to others. Hence, the death ratio of old people and those suffering from diabetes, heart diseases is much higher. Q3. What are the symptoms of a heat stroke? symptoms Ans. One of the most obvious signs is the fact that the person starts feeling hot as his body temperature starts rising. The affected person may then start feeling dizzy and start to feel his heart rate increase. He may become unconscious due to these conditions which are triggered by an increase in body temperature. Q4. How can one protect himself/herself from the heat stroke? Ans. Prevention is better than cure. I must advise people not to travel outside from 12 pm- pm unnecessarily since it is at these timings that the temperature is at its peak in our country. People should stay indoors and try to avoid the heat during these times. When outside, people should wear light clothes so as not to increase their body temperature. Avoid wearing black or dark coloured clothes and don white or light blue clothing. Children must not be seated on motorcycles in the heat without any proper shade or shelter. Carry umbrellas and wear caps—remember, protecting the brain is the most effective way of protecting yourself from the heat stroke. Heat Deaths khi pkg 11-05 khurram Q5. What should be done when someone gets afflicted with a heat stroke? Place the affected person immediately in a cool place and sponge the hands and feet. These activities are conducted to lower the body temperature. As soon as this much is done, the affected person should be taken to the nearest hospital to ensure timely and proper treatment takes place. Q6. What about diet? Can that also be used to ward off the heat? Ans. Of course, people are advised to consume fresh drinks such as Lassi, sugarcane juice and lemonade during the scorching heat. Eat less solid food so that the feeling of heaviness does not form in the body. Daal chawal or khichri should be consumed. sugarcane Q7. Is Civil Hospital equipped to tackle the menace that the heat wave will bring with it? Emergency has been declared in our hospital in order to cope with this issue. A paramedic camp has been set up, inside which are coolers and ice. Three doctors are at all times on standby to attend to any patient that will be brought in for heat stroke. We can cater to 500 patients at a time suffering from heat stroke and have also increased the number of beds in the hospital. Q8. Why are heat waves claiming more lives today than ever before? Ans. Most of the people who died two years ago were beggars and drug addicts. These people were the ones who did not have shelter over their heads. Another large portion of the people who died were the ones who lived inside houses where the roofs were made up of tin or sheets of cloth only covered the sunrays. The population has swelled and housing has declined hence more and more people are deprived of shelter and they fall prey to the harsh heat each year. Secondly, deforestation has resulted in a large decline of trees, which are crucial in providing cool shade and cutting down pollution. I would urge the government, civil society and even the common man to plant trees so as to control the heat in the near future. Pollution has increased manifolds and this also leads to global warming, resulting in an increased temperature all around.

Karachi

Pakistan

Sindh

Punjab

climate

summer

Heatwave

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