Summer at its peak brings a plethora of health concerns and issues, such as sunstroke and skin rashes. It becomes important to adopt mindful lifestyle changes to keep yourself healthy while able to remain active. We spoke with a few experts to advise our readers on the most common illnesses, their treatments and some of the best summer healthcare tips.
Common Illness And Treatments
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke
The common summer illnesses encountered in the UAE are directly related to the summer temperatures which can reach up to 48°C. There are 3 types of heat-related illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Dr. Azhar Ali , General Practitioner, Medoer 24×7 International Hospital Al Ain said, “Heat cramps result from excessive sweating that depletes your body from salts and water. It may manifest as muscular pains in the arms and legs including the abdomen. Extreme heat exposure might also result in heat exhaustion. The warning signs include dizziness, rapid and shallow pulse, clammy skin, heavy sweating and nauseated sensations. Heat stroke is a medical emergency which if not managed urgently can result in brain damage. The symptoms and signs include hot red skin, raised body temperature, absence of sweating, confusion, decreased alertness and may progress to coma.”
Dr. Arshad Bhat Specialist Internal Medicine Mediclinic Al Sufouh said, “Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency in which inherent cooling mechanisms fail. The two main organ systems affected are the brain, and the liver. Patient complains of vertigo, confusion, ataxia and eventually, coma. Treatment emphasis should be on rapid identification and prompt transfer. Once identification has been made, and while transfer is being arranged, any measure that can be taken to begin cooling the patient and possibly rehydrating them (with oral rehydration solution) should be taken. Once in hospital, initial management of the patient with heat stroke is aimed at stabilisation of the airway, breathing, circulation and cooling (A, B, Cs).”
Dr. Uchil Lalit Mohan, Specialist Internal Medicine from Emirates Specialty Hospital said, “The first step in treatment consists of moving the patient to a cool area to reduce the temperature. Plenty of oral fluids to combat dehydration. Patients showing signs of heat stroke should be moved to a hospital urgently.”
Gastrointestinal disorders like vomiting and diarrhoea are more common during summer. Due to the high temperature, bacteria multiply rapidly in food which is left outside (unrefrigerated). During summer, it is wise to avoid uncooked food like salads, dips and chutneys. These cannot be heat sterilised and hence bacterial growth cannot be prevented.
Skin complaints such as heat rashes are also common because of the hot and humid weather. Fungal infections of the skin especially athlete’s foot are another common skin problem due to heat.
Dr. Azhar Ali of Medoer 24×7 International Hospital Al Ain said, “Sun-radiations have a negative effect on human skin. It may cause the onset of a new rash, and at the same time, could aggravate the existing skin pathologies. Individuals with fair skin complexion having less skin melanin (skin pigment material) are pretty more susceptible.”
Dr. Arshad Bhat of Mediclinic Al Sufouh said, “Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun results in sunburn. In general, the severity of sunburn is related to the intensity of the UVR and the duration of the exposure. Sunburns are characterised by the appearance of intense redness, the sensation of burning and pain 4-6 hours after sun exposure.”
Dr. Arshad Bhat further said, “Treatment for sunburn is almost always symptomatic. Blisters should be left intact. Topical creams and anaesthetics may be helpful, especially those containing vitamin E or aloe vera. Prevention of sunburn remains the best course of action. This is achieved by ensuring adequate protection from UVR through remaining indoors when the sun is strongest, generous and frequent application of sunscreens and use of UVR protective clothing.”
Headache, fainting and heat related ankle swelling
Dr. Nazia Salam, Family Medicine Consultant at Health Shield Medical Centre said, “Extended summer activities and strenuous exercise in the hot sun can lead to more headaches. One should avoid prolonged exposure in the sun and drink plenty of fluids. Swelling of the lower legs, most commonly ankle swelling is also very common during summers however it usually subsides without any treatment.
People do encounter brief loss of consciousness or feeling dizzy when standing. In such a case one should rest in a cool place positioning your head low and legs elevated.”
Dr. Omar Ibrahim from Shamma Clinic said, “The cutaneous mycosis of the fingers and toes is a fungal infection caused by two agents of the genus Trichophyton: T. rubrum and T. interdigitalis. It is rather contagious and is favoured by direct contact and frequentation of public places and by poor compliance with good hygiene standards. The mycoses are characterised by erythemato-squamous patches located mainly under the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands and at the interdigital level, they are often itchy and very annoying.”
He further said, “The treatment is local with the use of creams based on anti-fungal substances to be applied 2 times a day for at least 14 days. Systemic therapy should be reserved for those cases where there is resistance to local therapy, in which lesions are more extensive or plurifocal or in case of hair involvement (because the hair follicle is not reachable by topical drugs). It is essential to prevent such infections by wearing rubber slippers at the poolside, in the shower, and the changing room, as well as strictly using personal towels and brushes.”
As an old adage goes prevention is better than cure. Follow simple tips given by top medical experts in the UAE to keep yourself going in this summer.
Dr. Azhar Ali of Medoer 24×7 International Hospital Al Ain said, “Most important is to stay hydrated when going outdoors. Frequent intake of water or fruit juices is advisable if the person has to stay out for long hours. Stay away from caffeine or other soda drinks (that are way more sugary).”
Sun should be avoided especially from 11am to 3pm, when the temperatures are at their peak. Elderly people are more prone to get dehydrated, therefore, it’s better to schedule their activities to morning and evening hours.
Sunblock (SPF 15 or higher) should be applied to prevent skin pathologies. It is preferrable to wear light clothing and sun-glasses too.
Dr. Uchil Lalit Mohan of Emirates Specialty Hospital said, “Underwear and socks should be made of cotton, and one should avoid acrylic and other synthetic materials.”
Dr. Uchil Lalit Mohan added, “Food should be consumed immediately after being prepared. Food bought from restaurants and fast food outlets should not be kept unrefrigerated and should be consumed as soon as possible.”
Priyanka Mittal, Director, KRBL, makers of India Gate health food range said, “During summers it is best to avoid oily and fried food that is heavy on the stomach. Eating light does not necessarily mean reducing the quantity of your food intake. Instead eat food that is healthy, will keep your body hydrated and is easy to digest. Replace some of your staple food with healthier options. Replace your snack time with healthy and delicious salads and smoothies that are not only ideal to beat the heat but also nutritious for your body. Super foods such as quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds to name a few are perfect during the summers. They are infused with nutrients, easy to digest and are the perfect summer ingredients for all your dishes.”