Dr. J.K. Bhutani
In India. the Heat and Dust of April-May, bring cheers for the farmers finalizing the wheat crops’ harvesting, thrashing and transporting.
For the urban citizens, the sizzling heat brings fatigue, dizziness, hypotension, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
With the temperature peaking above 40 degrees Celcius and a ‘dry-air’ with minimal humidity of 10-20 percent, the coping systems of body are under strain. The two ways we cope with heat are by perspiring and breathing. Since the air is dry and humidity is at the minimal level, one finds the immense sweat as not being visible. The insensible loss of water from breathing also increases as the temperature hots up.
Generally by evenings, the shade and the comfort of the house is enough to recover the coping power of the body-system but the things may turn bad if the temperature does not drop at night.
The body becomes overwhelmed and one may have dizziness and headache because of the relentless heat.
Heat exhaustion and Heat-stroke are more severe, often the result of fatigue of the normative sweating process, thus leading to very high temperature and in extreme cases disturbed consciousness.
How to prevent heat exhaustion?
The common sense management is plenty-of-fluids with electrolytes (natural drinks like lime-water, coconut-water, butter-milk, aam–panna or jal-jeera etc are better than aerated drinks like soda or beer). The alcoholic beverages and caffeinated tea-cola-drinks may rob the body off more fluids because of the diuretic action.
Loose, cotton clothing and well-ventilated workplace and home along with air-conditioning helps a lot in warding off the heat-wave fatigue and exhaustion.
The standard ceiling fan circulates the dry air and the convection currents of air may evaporate more of your bodily fluids by increasing the loss through perspiration (one does not feel the sweat as it is drying immediately). A wet-wipe of the floor may help to some extent.
Even a cooler shall work for 15-20 days till the time HUMIDITY in the ambient air is low (20-30 percent). Coolers are less useful as they become less effective when the humidity reaches 50 percent (as may happen with the first shower) and it is also a hazard for inviting ‘malarial-dengue-larvae’ and even electric shock hazards.
Air -Conditioning is the best to beat the heat and have a cool comfortable temperature (25 degree Celsius), as it generally keeps the humidity of ambient air, around 50-55 percent, it thus may draw more water from one’s body under such dry-spells. So watch out to use a portable humidifier or keep a bucket-full water in the room and drink plenty of water to prevent dry throat, nose, skin and eyes and upper respiratory problems.
The people at workplaces or places with heavy traffics in the house should have a change of the air many times in the day to have good oxygen levels and remove or lessen infectious particles not removed by the filters of air-conditioners.
Lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and freshly made day and night meals with the locally or a pooled kitchen-garden produce is a treat if one puts some effort.
You are lucky if you are protected by some huge rich foliage tree like ‘Jamun-Mango-Neem-Acacia’ tree surrounding the western wall and the roof of the bed-room.
Dr J.K. Bhutani MD is a protagonist of preventive and promotive health care based on austere biology and facilitating self-healing powers of human organism. He practices in Karnal, Haryana. Twitter: @drjkbhutani