Nearly 800 heatwave-related cases reported across Maharashtra until June 14, Nagpur tops the list

Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, heatstroke is a medical emergency that can prove fatal if not properly and promptly treated.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Friday, June 17, 2022, 11:21 PM IST
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Nearly 800 heatwave-related cases reported across Maharashtra until June 14, Nagpur tops the list | IANS

Nearly 800 heatwave-related cases have been reported across Maharashtra until June 14, as per the data provided by the state health department. Of the total cases, 636 heatwave-related cases have been reported from Nagpur District, followed by 59 in Akola, 49 in Pune, 24 in Aurangabad, 19 in Nashik, three in Thane and one in Kolhapur district. However, 31 suspected deaths have occurred, of which 18 have been declared as confirmed deaths due to the heatwave. Officials have attributed this to the increase in temperatures beyond 40 degrees Celsius in some districts. Moreover, they have also urged people to take precautions to prevent adverse effects of the heatwave by staying hydrated, wearing light cotton and loose clothing, and consuming high-protein food.

Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia or heat-related illness, with abnormally elevated temperatures accompanied by physical symptoms, including changes in the functioning of the nervous system. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, heatstroke is a medical emergency that can prove fatal if not properly and promptly treated.

Dr Pradip Awate, state surveillance officer said there has been a surge in heatwave-related cases across Maharashtra and deaths reported are the highest in the last five years. However only 18 heatstroke deaths have been confirmed, while 13 deaths are due to other reasons as per the death audit committee of each district. “We have directed all the health officers to check on heatwave-related cases closely and have been advised to record real-time heat-related illnesses on an online portal. Nagpur is the only district with the highest cases,” he said.

Dr Pradip Shah, General Physician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund said Heatwave can affect the human body in many ways, and it can lead to exhaustion or heat stroke. When a person suffers from a heatwave, their internal system cannot adapt to the suddenly high temperature. Sweating has a cooling effect on the body, hence once a person stops sweating, they are more prone to suffer from exhaustion, which can quickly turn into a heat stroke, requiring immediate medical attention. The most critical organs affected commonly during a heatwave are the circulatory and central nervous systems. It also affects kidney function, especially when the person has dehydration due to prolonged exposure to heat.

“When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to approximately 106°F or higher, within 10-15 minutes. Heatstroke can also cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given at the right time. Some symptoms of heat stroke include hot or dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures, high body temperature, confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech and loss of consciousness (coma),” he said.

According to a study conducted by the state government under the ‘Heat Action Plan’, it was found that people with obesity and insomnia or suffering from health conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy and alcohol among others are more vulnerable to heat strokes.

“We have taken several initiatives like provision of drinking water facilities in markets, petrol pumps, religious places among others. We have also created shades for people to rest. Also, we have trained doctors and nurses,” said an official from the Public Health Department.

Heat waves come with several potential health dangers, including:

dehydration

respiratory disease

heat cramps

heat rash

heat stroke

heat exhaustion

kidney damage

impacts on mental health

Hence, it’s important to take the following precautions to stay safe from a heatwave:

- Stay Hydrated - Drink plenty of fluids. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. Avoid sugary, caffeinated drinks and alcohol

- Avoid cold beverages because they can cause stomach cramps

- Stay indoors and avoid excessive physical activity in a hot environment

- Limit your outdoor activity to when it's cooler, such as early morning and evening hours

- If you must step outside, rest in shaded areas so that your body has a chance to recover

- Wear light-coloured, and loose-fitting clothes

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