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HMC sees reduction in heat-related cases.

By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter The Hamad Medical Corporation's Emergency Department has recorded fewer cases of heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke or heat stress since the beginning of summer this year, thanks to the government's 'no work' rule during peak hours.

The only case of heat stroke received at the Emergency room so far since the soaring temperature was a case involving a Western expatriate, who showed symptoms such as unconsciousness and high body temperature.

He was later admitted to the HMC intensive care unit.

"We have begin to see cases of heat exhaustion since the past few days or weeks affecting mostly outdoor workers and those who have been driving all day. But the number of cases are not as high as in the previous years and I believe this is due mostly to companies' compliance to the work time reduction during this time," HMC Emergency Medicine acting consultant Dr Abdulnasir Fakah Huaidi said in an interview yesterday.

Every year, government enforces a no work rule that allows workers to take a break from 11.30am-3pm when the temperature is at its highest and the weather very humid.

"Previously, cases of heat exhaustion could reach 50 cases per day including 10 severe cases, but this has reduced significantly these days and especially when compared to about five years ago," he said without giving any figures for this year.

During June alone last year, the Emergency department received up to 139 cases of heat illnesses.

Dr Huaidi explained that outdoor workers are more susceptible to heat exhaustion because they work directly under the sun and most of the time, without proper protection.

"Majority of the patients have suffered sun burn and exhaustion showing symptoms such as tiredness and dizziness. Their conditions however, do not require admission as they are being discharged after spending few hours under observations at the hospital," he stated.

They usually treat heat exhaustion patients with IV fluid and simple injections, he said.

He urged companies to ensure there are adequate cool water and salt tablets available for workers on job sites, which he said are very necessary to prevent dehydration.

"Water is very important as every day, each adult needs between two-three litres of water whereas for those working under the sunlight, they need one litre more making their daily water requirement to around four litres," he stated.

Other major emergency cases that are rampant these days according to him, were upper respiratory track infections, which is mostly affecting those workers living in packed accommodation.

"Because most of these people live in jam-packed residences, the infections tend to spread easily among them such that around 15 people can be infected within two days if precautions were not observed," he explained.

He suggested that companies should monitor personal hygiene of their employees who are staying together in large number.

"If companies can take the initiatives to educate their workers, especially labourers about hygiene, they may reduce the rate of the infections and thus save themselves from loss of tangible working hours," he maintained.

He also raised concerns about the habit of smoking, which is very common among workers saying it decreases the immunity of the patients, apart from contributing to the severity of their infections.

"We have seen very severe cases of upper respiratory track infections among those patients that smoke, which is made worse due to the dusty and humid weather and this group of patients have the possibilities of developing asthma and other allergies," he noted.

However, he urged patients suffering from such infections to visit their health centres instead of rushing to the emergency room.

Dr Huaidi also mentioned that a number of accidents involving fall from heights and scaffoldings are common during this time. Dr Huaidi: "The number of cases are not as high as in the previous years

Gulf Times Newspaper 2012

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Jun 20, 2012
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