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Sri Lanka Sizzles

by Gayan Abeykoon
February 26, 2024 1:11 am 0 comment

Sri Lanka is experiencing hot weather during these days, and medical experts strongly advise individuals to minimise their exposure to sunlight and to drink plenty of fluids, especially fresh water on a frequent basis. Hot weather is not something familiar to the Sri Lankan people, and therefore they should take extra precautions to face hot weather. The most affected districts are Colombo, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Hambantota, and Moneragala.

According to Senior Lecturer of Community Medicine attached to the Faculty of Medicine at Colombo University, Dr. Kapila Jayaratne (MBBS, MSc, DCH, MD(Com Med), FRCOG (UK), FCCPSL, FPSSL), people should drink more water no matter how much they usually drink. During physical exercises, more drinks (not alcohol or sugary drinks) should be taken, and it should be more than the usual amount needed to get rid of thirst.

Adding salt to food as usual while cooking will provide adequate minerals. People should not expose themselves to the

Dr. Kapila Jayaratne

Dr. Kapila Jayaratne

heat/hot Sun. Dr. Jayaratne pointed out that Sun creams can be used to prevent Sunburns and blisters. People, especially children, should limit physical activities up to the level that the body can tolerate. Limiting activities to early morning and evening is recommended.

Physical activities

The vulnerable groups are infants and children less than four years old, elders over the age of 60, overweight people, people who are involved in physical activities making their bodies extremely tired, and sick people. Skin rashes can be prevented by staying in cool places and keeping the skin cool. If children get sunburnt, it is better to consult a doctor. Cramps can be eased by drinking minerals and resting. Some people get heat strokes, but it is very rare in Sri Lanka, Dr. Jayaratne said.

According to Pediatrician Dr. Deepal Perera, elderly people and children are most vulnerable to dehydration, and more attention should be paid to their health during this period. Children should not be left alone inside locked vehicles. This is exetremely dangerous and some times this can be  fatal.

According to Senior Consultant Physician Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, it is highly recommended for people to keep themselves hydrated by consuming natural beverages such as water, king coconut, while avoiding artificial drinks. An adult should drink at least 2.5 litres of water daily.

Schoolchildren need to be kept away from outdoor activities. Children must be provided with space to play indoors or in the shade. Small children should be encouraged to wear protective hats or caps when outdoors, he added.

Consultant doctors advise the public to beware of hot weather and take precautionary action to avoid dehydration. They say that with the increase in temperature, the spread of viral infections, and consequently eye infections, has also increased in the past few weeks. According to Consultants, people should drink more water and keep drinking water with them all the time. They should drink water often in little quantities. People should avoid direct sunlight and walking under the hot sun.

Main symptoms

People should avoid exercising under the hot Sun in open spaces and wear caps, hats, etc., and relevant dresses to cover the body from the hot sun. They should wear colours such as white, yellow, and light colours. The body temperature can go up due to hot weather.

People should be vigilant of possible heat strokes that can be developed in them due to hot weather and an increase in body temperature. The main symptoms of a heat stroke are increased body temperature, severe headache, faintness, lifelessness, weakened muscles, cramps, and shortness of breath.

People should drink cool liquids. They should go somewhere with cooler air and get into cool water. They can apply cold to key points on the body and move less. Wearing lighter, more breathable clothing also helps a lot. Immersing in cold water, using evaporation cooling techniques, and packing with ice and cooling blankets are other remedies that can be applied.

The best fruits for hot weather are watermelons, muskmelons, and citrus fruits. Watermelons are full of water and are great as juice or just chopped up. Muskmelons and other varieties of melon are also cooling and healthy in the heat.

School authorities should not expose schoolchildren to the hot sun these days, and all outdoor activities under the hot Sun should be avoided. Schoolchildren should NOT be forced to stay under the hot sun due to punishments or any other reason. Essential outdoor activities can be organized early in the morning around 7.30. Labourers who work under the hot Sun should drink a lot of water and take breaks as much as possible under shades.

Heat Warning

Rapid rises in heat gain due to exposure to hotter than average conditions compromise the body’s ability to regulate temperature and can result in a cascade of illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hyperthermia. Hot weather means your body has to work harder to keep its core temperature to normal levels, and this puts extra strain on your heart, lungs, and kidneys. Heat exhaustion is a condition that happens when your body overheats. Symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse.

Heat exhaustion is one of three heat-related illnesses, with heat cramps being the mildest and heat stroke being the most serious.

Heat exhaustion is caused by the loss of body water and salt through excessive sweating. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include: heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, visual disturbances, intense thirst, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, breathlessness, palpitations, and skin which is pale, cool, and moist.

Heat stroke Alert

Heat emergencies have three stages: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. All three stages of heat emergencies are serious. If you live in hot climates or play sports in the summertime, you should know how to spot the symptoms of a heat emergency.

It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heat stroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.

Symptoms: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103°F, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness. Recovery time for heat stroke is variable; initial recovery may be done with 1-2 days in the hospital; complete recovery may take about 2 months to a year. Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.

Take breaks in a designated shady or cool location. Wear a hat and light-coloured, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing if possible. Monitor yourself and others for signs of heat illness.

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