The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has issued warnings of scorching temperatures in the country. As the hot weather season can last until July, it is crucial to take precautions to protect ourselves from potential health risks.
While it may seem that increasing air conditioning usage and staying hydrated with water is sufficient, there are serious health implications associated with prolonged hot weather exposure. Ignoring these risks could lead to dire consequences.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the topic of hot weather and explore effective preventive measures to avoid heatstroke. We will also debunk some common myths circulating on the internet, so you can stay informed and protect yourself during the hot season.
Implication of extreme hot weatherPeople who are not accustomed to hot weather are at higher risk of developing heat exhaustion or heatstroke. This is because the body takes time to adapt to sudden changes in temperature.
Signs and symptoms of heatstroke
- Skin feels hot and dry to the touch, flushed skin
- Body temperature of 40oC or higher
- Confusion, slurred speech, altered mental status
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
Risk factors of developing heatstroke
- Children and older people aged 65 and above are at higher risk of heatstroke. In young children, their central nervous system is not yet fully developed, whereas adults over the age of 65 may experience deteriorating central nervous system function. Both age groups may also have difficulty staying hydrated, which increases the risk of heatstroke.
- Excessive exercise or participation in sports such as soccer or long-distance running in hot weather can lead to heatstroke. Limit your activities for at least a few days to avoid sudden exposure to hot weather.
- Certain underlying chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease can increase the risk of heatstroke. The same is true for being obese, living a sedentary lifestyle, and a history of heatstroke.
Tips to prevent heatstroke
Heatstroke is a preventable condition. Find out more about some ways to prevent and manage heatstroke during the hot weather season in Malaysia.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated so that your body can sweat to maintain a normal body temperature.
- Help your body to cool down properly by wearing clothes of lighter colour, lightweight, and during hot weather.
- Schedule physical activities during cooler times of the day such as early morning or evening. If you could not avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, remember to drink plenty of water and take breaks in a cooler place.
- Help young children or older people to be aware of their risks of heatstroke when they are in a hot environment. Act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating that may lead to heatstroke.
- Use sun protection such as applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or more when you are out and about. Use sunscreen more often such as reapplying every two hours if you are swimming or sweating to prevent sunburn. Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself.
- It is not safe to stay in the car when it is parked under the sun, in hot weather. Therefore, do not leave anyone in a parked vehicle. Did you know the temperature inside your car can rise by more than 11oC in just 10 minutes when it is under the sun?
Debunking internet myths
Some of us may have receive some myths that may be circulating on the internet such as the following:
- Refrain from drinking very cold water during the heat especially when temperatures reach 40°C. This is because small blood vessels may rupture or burst.
- There have been instances where taking a cold shower immediately while sweating may lead to sudden unconsciousness and fainting. It is recommended to wait 30 minutes before showering or cooling down.
- Drinking warm or hot water is actually better than consuming very cold water during extremely hot days when you are outdoors.
However, the statements mentioned above are not supported by reliable sources or references and lack proper studies or scientific evidence to substantiate them.
Book an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals
If you encounter a situation that requires medical attention, please seek immediate medical attention at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.
- Heat Wave Status. Available at https://www.met.gov.my/en/iklim/status-cuaca-panas/ [Accessed on 13 April 2023]
- Extreme Heat. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html [Accessed on 13 April 2023]
- Heatwave: how to cope in hot weather. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather/ [Accessed on 13 April 2023]
- Heat Stress – Heat Related Illness. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/heatrelillness.html [Accessed on 13 April 2023]