Following the southwest monsoons departure from Mumbai on October 6, the city has experienced a swift return of hot weather, marking the beginning of October heat. There has already been a rise in cases of viral fever, dehydration, giddiness, heat stroke and other illnesses due to the sudden fluctuations in temperature.
Civic, state and private hospitals have reported a surge in the number of people visiting outpatient departments in the past seven days. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported a maximum of 34.2°C on Thursday, three degrees above normal, and doctors reported concerns over the effects of elevated temperatures on human health.
“Rising body temperatures can make breathing difficult, which can be fatal for people with respiratory problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” one doctor said. Extreme heat can create conditions conducive for viruses to thrive, potentially leading to a rise in cold and fever cases, the doctors said.
High temperatures can weaken immunity
High temperatures can weaken the human bodys immune response, making it more susceptible to viral infections, they said. “Viral illnesses like the common cold are primarily caused by rhinoviruses. These viruses tend to thrive in conditions with low humidity, which can occur when temperatures soar. When the air is dry, the virus particles remain suspended longer, increasing the chances of transmission from person to person,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at Bombay Hospital.
A senior doctor at the state health department said that symptoms include common cold and cough, nasal, throat and other upper respiratory infections. Some patients are exhibiting severe acute respiratory infection (SARI), requiring hospitalisation, he said. Most infections are self-limiting (resolve within five to seven days) and require symptomatic management and hydration.
“There has been a rise in the number of patients coming to the hospital with influenza and influenza-like illness over the past few weeks,” said Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, physician at J J Hospital. He added that lack of fluids can make one parched and dehydration. Unpleasant warning signs include cramps, loss of appetite, fatigue, decreased concentration, and dark coloured urine.
Avoid direct sunlight Cover your face and head using a scarf, dupatta or a hat while walking in the sun. Avoid stepping out unless required, especially between noon and 4pm.
Keep wet wipes to keep yourself fresh. Use an umbrella to protect yourself from direct rays.
Wear fullsleeved clothes to avoid exposure to the suns heat.
Prioritise sun protection by using sunscreen with at least 50 SPF, applying it an hour before going out and reapplying every two hours.
Keep hydrated. Drink enough water. Consume fruit juices, coconut water, buttermilk as they are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals.