Rising temperatures in UAE: Medics warn residents of surge in heat-related ailments

Conditions can range from mild discomfort to severe medical emergencies


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Tue 13 Jun 2023, 4:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Jun 2023, 4:51 PM

Doctors in the UAE are reporting increased cases of patients suffering from heat-related illnesses as it is starting to get noticeably warmer with the long summer months on the horizon.

This includes heat rashes, cramps and even strokes. Healthcare professionals explain these conditions can range from mild discomfort to severe medical emergencies.

As the mercury starts to soar, medics highlight it is crucial for people to take necessary precautions and remain aware of the potential dangers linked to heat exposure.

Dr Mais M Mauwfak, specialist internal medicine, Thumbay University Hospital, Ajman says: “We encounter patients with heat-related ailments regularly, especially during the hot summer months. Given the rising temperatures during this time of the year, it is important for individuals to take precautions and be mindful of the risks associated with heat exposure.”

“We are encountering consistent rise in patients, especially among children, the elderly, and outdoor workers who are exposed to the perpendicular sun waves during working hours. These individuals often report complaints associated with heat exposure, such as heat rash, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion,” he adds.

Remain hydrated

Doctors advise remaining hydrated by increasing daily water intake by at least 500-1000 ml, opting for cold drinks and a soft diet.

Wear lightweight clothing and use sun protection. Seek shade or cool environments, especially during the hottest hours. Avoid heavy meals and opt for frequent body baths with cold water to regulate body temperature. Stay informed about weather forecasts and follow guidelines provided by local authorities. These measures will help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and promote well-being during the summer months.

Dr Raviraj, Specialist Internal Medicine, Aster Clinic, Muteena says: “In our OPD, we commonly encounter patients with heat exposure-related illnesses. The most frequently encountered ailments are heat rash and heat cramps, which are milder forms of heat-related illnesses. Heat rash is typically more bothersome than dangerous, manifesting as an itchy skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. In some cases, the rash can become infected and may require antibiotics. To prevent heat rash, it is advisable to take a bath at least twice a day and use cold compresses or soothing lotions like calamine lotion.”

Doctors explain sunburn is another skin complication that can occur due to overexposure to direct sunlight, resulting in blisters on the skin.

“This can be prevented by using shades like umbrellas and applying sunscreens with SPF protection when going out. However, heat cramps are a little more serious of the heat-related illness as it can be the first sign that the patient is going for complication including heat stroke. It is characterised by cramping pains in arms, legs and abdomen and usually occurs due to salt and water depletion. Adequate rest in the shade or cooler environment with hydration is the treatment. Drinks containing electrolytes, especially sodium, and potassium, especially fruit juices, can avert complications,” explains Raviraj.

When should you visit a clinic?

Patients experiencing symptoms of heat cramp may experience giddiness. They should hydrate well and visit a clinic for assessment as it can be the early signs for heat exhaustion or a heart stroke.

They explain heat stroke is a life-threatening complication of heat exposure and requires immediate attention.

“Those experiencing heat exhaustion, especially with symptoms such as heavy sweating, muscle cramps, faintness, fatigue, a weak and rapid pulse, body pain, headaches, loss of appetite, and vomiting should consult a doctor immediately,” says Dr Zuhair Alsharafi, Corporate Director Emergency Services, Burjeel Holdings.


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