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Body cracks under heat.

Hyderabad: A vast majority of the victims of the heatwave are either elderly people or young children because they are most susceptible to high temperatures.

"They are most vulnerable as they lose body fluids rapidly," said Dr K. Shankar, superintendent of Fever Hospital, which has been flooded with cases of sunstrokes.

Thousands of people have been brought to hospitals with high temperature, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, weakness, delirium and body ache.

Severe heat causes havoc in the body, affecting the brain, heart and the kidneys. The intense heat causes dehydration and the sudden loss of fluids leads to complications.

"It creates an electrolyte imbalance leading to behavioural change," said Dr Devraj, head of Niloufer Children's hospital. "If detected early and there is immediate medical intervention the person can be saved."

The malnourished are at greater risk as their bodies cannot withstand the pressure caused by intense heat. Those with diabetes, kidney and heart ailments are also at a higher risk as exposure to heat causes their temperature to shoot up affecting vital organs including brain. "Extreme heat causes an imbalance of vital nutrients such as sodium potassium, vitamins and electrolytes, which impacts the brain. This condition is called metabolic encephalopathy. In some cases people suffer a heart attack. Such people should avoid exposure to heat and drink lots of water," said Dr K. Shankar.

Dr Pradeep Deshpande, Professor of Nephrology at Gandhi Hospital, said the heat causes kidney stones because urine is concentrated despite taking liquids.

"There are chances of intense heat causing kidney injury and hyperthermia. Dehydration also leads to increase in blood urea levels."

Experts also attribute such a high death toll to the sudden rise in temperatures. The temperature was almost normal during most of the summer due to the unseasonal rains. But it suddenly shot up in the last few weeks of the season putting a lot of pressure on the human body. The body cannot withstand extreme swings in temperature, experts said.

The functioning of the body deteriorates rapidly starting with heat exhaustion, profuse sweating and listlessness. The skin dries up and cannot perspire to maintain body temperature at a normal level. Then comes nausea, vomiting, headaches and low blood pressure, affecting the functioning of brain and contracting of vessels. Seizures and organ failure follow resulting in death.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 3, 2015
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