Kolkata: Regular rise in mercury triggers warmth illnesses

KOLKATA: After a relatively cool start, the April heat has finally reared its head. As the maximum temperature climbed up to 37.5°C — the season’s highest so far — on Monday, hundreds have started falling prey to heat exhaustion, pointed out doctors. They warned that this is a precursor to heat stroke — a life-threatening condition that is triggered when the body temperature rises to 104°C, usually due to a prolonged exposure to heat.
RealFeel temperature — a measure of the actual feeling of heat on the skin — went up to 39°C on Monday afternoon. It will get steadily hotter over the next 48 hours, said the (RMC). The IMD website has predicted the maximum temperature to rise up to 38°C by Wednesday. But relief could also be in the offing. The Met office spies a thunderstorm on Wednesday. “A cyclonic circulation is set to develop over . If it forms, a thunderstorm is likely on Wednesday. It could pull the mercury down,” said GK Das, director of RMC.

The spiraling mercury has been causing muscle cramps, a sign of heat exhaustion, said RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) consultant Arindam Biswas. “Along with cramps, vomiting, dizziness and excessive sweating are the symptoms of heat exhaustion. The number of patients has been rising fast. If the warm spell continues, heat triggered diseases will turn more frequent. This should be taken seriously. Heat exhaustion needs to be fought with adequate fluid intake. Prolonged exposure to sun should also be avoided,” said Biswas.

A sudden temperature rise could also trigger viral infections, warned consultant Debashish Saha. “Respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses like rhinovirus are most common in the first phase of intense summer. It is the common cold virus that starts with an ordinary bout of cough and cold. But those with a lower immunity, for instance, diabetics, congestive heart disease

patients, those with renal failure, liver disorders and the elderly need to be cautious. They could catch a secondary bacterial infection due to their compromised immunity and contract pneumonia. It could be life-threatening,” said Saha.

He added that water-borne diseases like cholera, hepatitis and gastro-enteritis were also common due to the poor quality of water that bis used for drinking. “Potable drinking water is scarce in our city. So, we expect a spurt in water-borne diseases as the heat intensifies over the next fortnight,” said Saha.

Explaining the reasons behind the rise in temperature, Das said that warm, dry winds are blowing in from central India. “Westerly winds are carrying the heat from the central states of India. This will continue,” said Das.

To keep heat ailments at bay, stay away from crowded places, advised experts. “Since heatstrokes are triggered by continued exposure to the sun, it should be avoided. If one sweats profusely, move to a shed, preferably a cool place. It is important to being the body temperature down quickly,” said Saha.

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