Prevalence of diseases during hot weather By Murtala Yahaya

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In the last couple of days, the intense hot weather has been taking its toll. The condition experienced is causing a lot of discomfort to many people.
Medical experts say during hot season diseases becomes more prevalent as the body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain healthy temperature. During severe hot condition people sleep outdoors, so that the body cools itself.
Heat related illness can range from respiratory infection, heat stroke in the elderly sleepless nights which cause fatigue dehydration.
Most people find extremely hot weather and heat waves uncomfortable, some people have a higher risk than others of becoming ill. These include: elderly people aged over 75 years, babies and young children.

It’s affecting people with long term health conditions, people taking certain medicines, people who are socially isolated.
Others are people who work outdoors or in hot and poorly ventilated area, people engaging in vigorous physical activity in hot weather as well as people who are not acclimatised to the heat.

Anyone can suffer heat related illness, but those at risk are the elderly, babies and young children, pregnant and nursing mothers, sick people or those on medication, adding that it’s important to keep drinking water even if you don’t feel thirst.
Heat stroke as one of the related illness occurs when the body temperature is not controlled properly and it rises above 40.5 °C. Saying that it is the most serious heat-related illness and is a life-threatening emergency, immediate first aid aimed at lowering the body temperature as quickly as possible is very important.
Heat rash as another disease that is common during the hot season is an itchy, painful rash commonly called prickly heat it is caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather, and particularly affects young children. Its symptoms include a cluster of red pimples or small blisters, particularly on the neck or upper chest, or increases in the groin, elbow and under the breasts.
Dehydration as an illness that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions, Its Symptoms include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, dark yellow urine, loss of appetite, and fainting.
Heat cramps which usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity is causing the body to lose salt and water, Its symptoms are Muscle pains or spasms.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s reaction to loss excessive amounts of water and salt contained in sweat. Symptoms include heavy sweating, pale skin, fast and weak pulse rate, fast and shallow breathing, muscle weakness or cramps, tiredness and weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, or fainting.
One of the best ways to avoid heat-related illness is to drink plenty of water. It’s important to keep drinking water even if you don’t feel thirsty because this can prevent you from becoming dehydrated. Avoid alcoholic, hot or sugary drinks including tea and coffee because these can make dehydration worse.
Also keeping as cool as possible can also helps you prevent heat-related illness. Make sure you stay out of the sun. Drinking cold drinks and eating smaller, cold meals, such as salads and fruit, can also help you to keep cool. Other things to do include wearing light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton, and taking cool showers or baths.

You can help keep your house cool by shutting curtains and blinds during the day. If you don’t have air-conditioning, go to a cool place such as a library, shopping centre, cinema or swimming pool. Stay in the coolest room in the house and use the stove and oven as little as possible.

Children need to be reminded to drink water or animals and also children should never be left alone in a car, even if the air-conditioner is on. Ensure animals have water and plenty of shade if they are outside.

Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored, and defrost foods in the fridge, not on the kitchen bench. If you need to go out in the sun, it’s important to protect your own and your children’s skin. If you avoid sunburn, you reduce the risk of skin cancer, which is one of the most common cancer types in Nigeria.
It is hoped that people will strive to get health tips about heat season.

Yahaya writes from Department of Mass Communication University of Maiduguri.

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