It’s that time of the year when most, if not all, people complain about the uncomfortable scorching heat.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the period between March to May marks the hot dry season in the Philippines. During this season, the temperature and humidity reach their maximum level, resulting to a high apparent temperatures or high heat index.
Heat index (human discomfort index) is a measure of what humans perceive or feel as the temperature affecting the body. Simply put, it is the “feels like” temperature or how hot it really feels outside when the relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The higher the heat index, the more uncomfortable people can get. However, some people may experience even worse than discomfort; they may suffer from heat-related illnesses.
Here are the potential health-related illnesses that one may experience when the heat index reaches the following temperatures, according to PAGASA:
27°C to 32°C – Caution
32°C to 41°C – Extreme Caution
41°C to 54°C – Danger
Over 54°C – Extreme Danger
Heat-related illnesses occur when the body is not able to properly cool itself after prolonged exposure to high temperature and humidity.
While the body can usually adapt to high temperatures by sweat production and evaporation, this adaptive mechanism is not as effective when the temperature and humidity in the environment are very high at the same time. On a hot, humid day, less evaporation of sweat occurs, diminishing the body's ability to cool itself. And without fast treatment, this can lead to serious health problems.
The most common heat-related illnesses are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps is the mildest form of heat-related illness characterized by painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs. This usually results from too much loss of water and salt due to excessive sweating.
Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can develop into heatstroke if left untreated. It occurs when excessive sweating in a hot environment reduces the blood volume. The common warning signs may include paleness and sweating, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps (usually in the abdomen, arms or legs), headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, or fainting.
Heat stroke is the most serious type of heat-related illness. It is considered a medical emergency and requires urgent attention. With heatstroke, the core body temperature rises above 40.5 °C, and the body’s internal systems start to shut down. A person with heatstroke will experience central nervous system changes – such as delirium, coma, and seizures – vital organ damage, and even death if urgent medical care is not given.
Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Here are some general guidelines to protect yourself and your family from any heat-related illness this hot dry season:
Keep Your Body Cool
Keep Your Home Cool