March 21, 2016 174
Malaysia is already mourning its first heat wave victim, a 23-year-old Malaysian trainee cop, who is said to have died in Johor because of a heatstroke on Friday. With this, the heat wave has now fully arrived Malaysia. Even if young children and elderly people form the high risk group, this tragic example shows us that nobody is an exception for the consequences of the heatwave. Heat Stroke is a serious issue and you should be aware of its symptoms, how to prevent it and how to do First Aid.
What is a Heat Stroke?
Heat Stroke is a medical emergency and the most serious form of heat injury, especially in Malaysia. It is caused by an overheating body and is defined by a body temperature of 40.5°C or more. Usually it is the result of prolonged exposure, physical exertion combined with dehydration. The longer the treatment is delayed, the worse its consequences can be for your heart, kidneys, muscles and brain and can ultimately lead to death.
Where does it happen?
Heat Stroke can happen everywhere. Apartments without air conditioning, rural areas with lacking water supply, working spaces that are exposed to the sun and sports grounds are high risk areas. Generally, every overly hot environment that lacks of drinking water supply should be avoided as much as possible during heatwaves. If you live in an urban area, you may be especially prone to develop heat stroke during a prolonged heat wave. Stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality for example because of the upcoming haze can make it even worse.
Who is affected?
You easily can inhibit an overheating (click here to find out how). As long as you do so, especially drink enough fluids like water you should be alright, but if you don’t follow these recommendations, everyone who spends time outside in the heat is potentially in danger of heat stroke. Blue-collar workers who are exposed to the sun, elderly and very young people whose bodies might be weakened and athletes who are exercising during the hot weather are definitely more in danger. Additionally, people with different health conditions like, heart, lung or kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and underweight should be more careful as well.
When does it happen?
The current heat wave, also called Equinox phenomenon, takes place in Malaysia during March and September each year. Depending on many other conditions, like the effect of haze to the air quality, influences of heatwaves can be moderate or very strong. There is no need for a heat wave to cause a heat stroke but the probability is definitely higher during these days. Lunchtime between 12pm and 2:30 pm is the hottest time the day. Therefore, some doctors suggest high risk groups to stay inside instead of going out for lunch and exposing themselves to the sun.
How do I know someone has a Heat Stroke and how can I help?
Symptoms of Heat Stroke look like:
- High body temperature
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Irritable or aggressive behaviour
- Progressive loss of consciousness
- Rapid, weak or irregular pulse
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Dizziness and light-headedness
First Aid for Heat Stroke:
- Call 999
- Cool down his or her body by wetting the skin and clothes with water
- Take ice and put it to the patient´s groin, neck, back and armpits (These areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin and speed up the cooling down process of the body)
- Bring the patient into a tub of cool water or a shower
Heat Stroke is a serious topic. Even if it is easily avoidable lots of people die in Malaysia each year because of overheating. Keep an eye on yourself and your friends and family especially during the next few days. Heat Strokes that are treated within the first 30 minutes do not lead to consequential damages of the patient in most instances. So please watch out.
by Jens Behrensen
German fitness addict sharing my experience and trying to bring a healthier lifestyle to people. View all articles by Jens Behrensen.