Gold Coast Health is urging the city’s residents and visitors to be alert for signs of heat-related illness as the summer holiday season begins.
More than 40 Gold Coasters were treated at Gold Coast Health emergency departments for heat-related illness from July 2015 to June 2016.
Public Health Medical Officer Dr Anu Anuradha from the Public Health Unit said it was important residents look after their health by staying cool and hydrated. “Heat-related illness occurs when the body overheats and cannot cool itself down,” Dr Anuradha said.
“The effects of overheating on the body can vary from heat rash and cramps through to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
Dr Anuradha said there were measures that could be taken to prevent heat-related illnesses.
Such measures include:
- if you have a medical condition, ask your doctor for advice about what to do during a heatwave
- drink plenty of fluids – cool water is best and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, but rather drink regularly throughout the day
- gauge your hydration by the colour of your urine – it should be clear to light straw-coloured, not dark or gold
- stay indoors in very hot weather, preferably in an air-conditioned building or ensure there is good air flow with fans and open windows
- consider seeking refuge from the heat in public venues, such as air-conditioned shopping centres and pools
- stay cool by taking cool showers or baths; soak feet in a basin of water; wet a bandana or washer and wrap it around your neck
- take time to adjust to the environment, pace yourself and limit strenuous outdoor activity.
Dr Anuradha said certain groups of people, including the elderly, infants, overweight and obese people, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with some pre-existing health conditions, were more prone to heat-related illnesses. However, anyone can be affected.
“Monitor family, friends and even neighbours who may be more prone to heat-related illness – check on them and make sure they are ok,” she said.
Heat exhaustion usually develops over a couple of days, Dr Anuradha said.
“Symptoms may include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, paleness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and fainting.”
Dr Anuradha said heat stroke was the most serious heat-related illness and had the potential to be life threatening.
“Symptoms of heat stroke are similar to heat exhaustion but the person may also have an extremely high body temperature; red, hot dry skin, but possibly some clamminess; a rapid pulse; headache and confusion,” she/he said.
“Cool the person down urgently with a cool shower, bath or sponge, or even spray them with cool water from a hose. Loosen their clothing and have them rest in a cool place.
“Provide cool non-alcoholic fluids, but only if you are confident they can swallow. Avoid drinks high in sugar.
“If heat stroke is suspected, then the person will need urgent medical attention,” Dr Anuradha said.
For further information on staying healthy and safe during hot weather visit www.health.qld.gov.au/disaster