Heat Illnesses on The Decline

ABU DHABI — With the mercury hitting 42 degrees Celsius and above this month, fasting this Ramadan is particularly difficult for the workers who have to work outdoors, but doctors here said they do not foresee any increase in cases of heat illnesses among them during the holy month.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Thu 27 Aug 2009, 12:10 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:24 AM

Dr Jehad Awad, acting chairman of the emergency unit at Al Mafraq Hospital, said the reduced working hours, midday break and construction companies following the midday break rule are major factors that help reduce the number of heat-related cases among workers during Ramadan.

Compared to last month, the number of heat-related cases received in August by Mafraq Hospital has decreased, according to Dr Awad although he didn’t specify the average number per day.

Dr Hakimuddin Giwalhan, emergency physician at Al Ain Hospital, agreed with Dr Awad noting this month the hospital has only seen minor cases of around two to three per day on average.

“We did not see much increase, I don’t think so it will increase this Ramadan,” he said. Like Dr Awad, he attributed the decrease to the reduced working hours and companies’ adherence to the midday break rule.

According to Dr Charles Stanford, a senior director at Lifeline Group, the best way to protect one’s health, especially those who are observing the holy month, are to rehydrate properly before fasting, wear cool protective clothing and reduce sun exposure.

He advised to abstain from drinking coffee, tea or soft drinks in the morning before fasting as they can cause diuresis (increased urine production).

“They better stick to water, bland or fruit drinks, not sugary (as) to make you thirsty or drinks that contain stimulants,” Stanford said.

“Try to keep out of the heat as much as possible to avoid sweating. Wear light protective clothing and keep out of the sun and (use) anything that can keep you out of the sun, like turban, shades or a covering where you work,” he added. He also recommended self-pacing. “They should try to pace themselves. They should work to a level that doesn’t make them sweat, although it’s very difficult at 43 degrees Celsius,” Dr Stanford stated. As sweating could cause one to lose body fluid, Dr Giwalhan suggested taking “not only water” but fruit juice or with lemon with a combination of a bit of salt and sugar to replenish the electrolytes in the body.

“When you’re sweating a lot, you’re losing salt from your body and this can disturb the electrolyte in the body,” he said. Dr Awad also advised the wearing of loose light-coloured cotton, not nylon, clothes. olivia@khaleejtimes.ae0

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