Health warnings issued amid hot summer weather

MONDAY, APRIL 08, 2024

Medical experts are warning all Thais to be cautious and prepared to deal with a variety of ailments that are common during the summer season.

The warning came in response to an impending heat wave that will sweep across the country.

According to the Meteorological Department, several areas in upper Thailand will experience hot to very hot weather between April 8 and 11. As a result, people are asked to take care of their health during the extreme heat. Working or engaging in outdoor activities for extended periods is discouraged.

Dr Nat Boontawan, doctor of internal medicine at Paolo Hospital Samut Prakan, advised people to be aware of the risks from heat and take precautions.

The most common type of heat stress to be concerned about is heatstroke, in which the body accumulates heat at temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

He said that possible visible symptoms include sweating, rapid pulse, palpitations, convulsions, spasticity, and loss of consciousness.

"If not treated properly and promptly, it can result in cardiac arrest and death. Heatstroke severity is determined by a variety of factors, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and dehydration," he explained.

To reduce the risk of heatstroke, he recommended drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, wearing airy, breathable clothing, avoiding being in the sun or exercising in hot weather, and abstaining from alcohol.

Meanwhile, he discussed other common diseases associated with the hot season and how to prevent them.

Such illnesses include rabies or hydrophobia, diarrhoea, food poisoning, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, sunburn, and heat exhaustion.

Rabies is caused by a viral infection found in animal saliva via biting, scratching, or licking. Medical experts advise washing the wound with soap and water several times after being bitten by infected dogs and seeking medical attention, including rabies vaccination.

If you defecate more than three times per day, you should see a doctor immediately. Meanwhile, drinking some mineral water is recommended to avoid dehydration, which can result in shock, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Food poisoning is a gastrointestinal disorder caused by consuming bacteria-contaminated water or semi-cooked, semi-raw, and raw foods. Symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.

Health warnings issued amid hot summer weather

Cholera is a contagious disease caused by consuming water contaminated with vibrio bacteria. If left untreated, it can rapidly dehydrate and deplete electrolytes, resulting in loss of consciousness. In some cases, the symptoms are severe and can result in death.

Dysentery is caused by consuming or drinking water contaminated with bacteria or amoebas.

Typhoid fever is caused by consuming food or water contaminated with Salmonella typhi bacteria, resulting in a high fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, loss of appetite, constipation, or diarrhoea.

Sunburn symptoms include itchy skin, burning pain, red swollen skin, and blistering that resembles scalding. Because if the wound breaks, the skin will become inflamed. To prevent this, avoid being in the sun and remember to wear sunscreen even when you're not outside, as ultraviolet (UV) rays can reflect off the ground and harm your skin.

Heat exhaustion is caused by prolonged exposure to extremely hot temperatures. It raises the body temperature, but not to 40 degrees Celsius, as in heatstroke, but enough to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. However, people suffering from heat exhaustion must be treated as soon as possible to avoid heatstroke.

Health warnings issued amid hot summer weather

Each symptom and disease has its own method of treatment. However, it is clear that the majority of summer-borne diseases are contagious and are transmitted through contaminated food or water. To avoid and reduce the risk of various diseases, doctors recommend the following practices:

  • Choose to eat food that is cooked, is clean, and has not spoiled, or that does not contain ingredients that have started to spoil.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Always wash your hands before and after eating, and especially after using the restroom.
  • Drink clean water, such as bottled water or boiled water.
  • Drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day, sipping it throughout the day.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take enough rest.

In addition, annual checkups are important for getting to know your body. If any symptoms are noticed, you should see a doctor right away for an examination and treatment, because many infectious diseases can prove fatal in a short period of time.

As for children, Dr Pornnapa Saetang, paediatric specialist at the Child and Adolescent Health Centre, Phyathai Nawamin Hospital, said that exhaustion from rising temperatures can make it easier for children with weak immunity to become ill.

Meanwhile, she suggested that parents beware of heatstroke, diarrhoea, influenza, and food poisoning.