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11 in Maharashtra die due to heat stroke. Here are causes, symptoms, treatment | Health

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

The news of 11 people dying and 50 being hospitalised due to dehydration, dizziness, nausea and chest pain after attending Maharashtra Bhushan award function in Khargar, Navi Mumbai has spread across the country like wildfire as reports of heatstroke or heat stroke sickness emerged soon after the Maharashtra government’s function ended at around 2pm, the hottest time of the day, on Sunday. Around 600 attendees reportedly suffered heat stroke on Sunday where the conditions of some of the hospitalised people were critical as they suffered cardiac problems and blood sugar level fluctuations, which could increase the number of casualties and most of the victims were elderly women.

In this photograph taken on April 16, 2023, people gather to attend an award ceremony on the outskirts of Mumbai. Heatstroke killed 11 people in India after an estimated million spectators waited for hours in the sun at a government-sponsored awards ceremony, officials said as early summer temperatures soared. 11 die, over 600 suffer heatstroke at Maharashtra event. Here are its causes, symptoms, prevention tips and treatment (Photo by AFP)

For the uninitiated, sun stroke or heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that occurs when your body overheats and is unable to cool down and this health condition can be life-threatening and immediate medical attention is required. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Nikhil Varge, Consultant Internal Medicine Expert at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, revealed, “Heat stroke can be caused by exposure to high temperatures for an extended period, particularly in combination with high humidity. It can also be caused by physical exertion in hot weather, which can lead to dehydration and an increased risk of heat stroke.”

According to him, other factors that can increase your risk of heat stroke include:

  • Certain medications can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature
  • Age (elderly and young children are more susceptible)
  • Chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, obesity, or diabetes)
  • Alcohol use
  • Wearing tight or heavy clothing that traps heat

Highlighting the symptoms, Dr Nikhil Varge said, “The symptoms of heat stroke can develop rapidly and it’s important to recognise them and seek medical attention immediately.” Symptoms can include:

  • High body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Stating that preventing heat stroke involves taking steps to stay cool and hydrated in hot weather, he suggested some tips:

  • Stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Wear loose, light-coloured clothing.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water or sports drinks).
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.
  • Take breaks in the shade or air-conditioned areas.
  • Use fans or air conditioning to stay cool.

Insisting that if you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke, it’s important to act immediately, Dr Nikhil Varge recommended some treatment steps to take:

  • Call for emergency medical assistance.
  • Move the person to a cool, shaded area.
  • Remove any tight or heavy clothing.
  • Fan the person or apply cool water to their skin.
  • If the person is conscious, offer them fluids (water or sports drinks).
  • Monitor their breathing and heart rate until help arrives.

He pointed out that in the hospital, treatment for heat stroke may include:

  • Intravenous fluids to rehydrate the body.
  • Medications to control seizures or reduce inflammation.
  • Cooling measures such as ice baths or cooling blankets.

Dr Nikhil Varge concluded, “Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke, call for emergency medical assistance and take steps to cool them down until help arrives. Preventing heat stroke involves staying cool and hydrated in hot weather.”

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