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Severe Heatwave Grips Delhi: How to Protect Yourself as Temperatures Soar Above 45 Degrees

As a severe heatwave grips Delhi and other parts of North India, with temperatures soaring to 45-47 degrees Celsius, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert. The extreme heat poses significant health risks, including heatstroke, dehydration, and damage to vital organs. It is crucial to take preventative measures to protect oneself from the adverse effects of such high temperatures.

High temperatures can overwhelm the body’s natural ability to regulate its internal temperature, leading to conditions like heatstroke. Symptoms of heatstroke include high body temperature (above 40°C or 104°F), confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures. Without immediate medical intervention, heatstroke can be fatal. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can also damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.

The Dangers of Extreme Heat

1. Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion: Dr. Tushar Tayal, Consultant in Internal Medicine at CK Birla Hospital, warns that temperatures above 45°C can lead to heatstroke, characterized by a high body temperature, confusion, rapid pulse, and loss of consciousness. Heat exhaustion, a milder form of heat-related illness, manifests as heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. If untreated, heat exhaustion can escalate to heatstroke.

2. Dehydration: In intense heat, the body loses fluids rapidly through sweating. Dr. Tayal highlights that severe dehydration can cause extreme thirst, dry mouth, reduced urine output, confusion, dizziness, and fainting. Adequate hydration is essential to prevent these symptoms.

3. Cardiovascular Stress: High temperatures force the cardiovascular system to work harder to cool the body, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, the elderly, and those with hypertension.

4. Respiratory Problems: Dr. Surinder Kumar, General Physician in New Delhi, notes that extreme heat can worsen air quality, increasing the concentration of ground-level ozone and other pollutants. This can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD.

5. Skin Damage: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures and sunlight can cause heat rash and increase the risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Protecting the skin with appropriate clothing and sunscreen is crucial during extreme heat.

Preventive Measures

To mitigate the adverse health effects of extreme heat, it is essential to adopt the following preventive measures:

•Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.

•Stay Cool: Spend time in air-conditioned environments during peak heat hours. Use fans, take cool showers, and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.

•Avoid Strenuous Activities: Limit outdoor activities, especially during the hottest parts of the day. If you must be outside, take frequent breaks in the shade and drink water regularly.

•Monitor Vulnerable Individuals: Keep an eye on the elderly, children, and those with chronic health conditions, as they are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

•Use Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Staying Informed and Prepared

As temperatures continue to rise, awareness and preparation are key to preventing heat-related health issues. Stay informed about weather forecasts and heat advisories, and take proactive steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of extreme heat.

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