With the heat posing health risks, ministry gives health tips


Keeping the sun at bay: Using an umbrella while outdoors reduces direct exposure to the sun and helps in keeping heat-related illnesses at bay. The Health Ministry is advising caution as Malaysians face the ongoing heatwave. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: With Ramadan just days away and temperatures on the rise, the people, especially Muslims, will have to take extra care to stay healthy and hydrated.

Prolonged exposure to the hot weather without enough water intake is detrimental to health, especially for high-risk groups such as children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, warns the Health Ministry.

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“Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include headaches, fatigue, lack of concentration, dizziness, muscle weakness or cramps and nausea.

“Severe conditions can lead to dehydration, confusion and coma,” it said in a statement yesterday.

It also gave some tips for those fasting to protect themselves.

“Avoid planning Ramadan activities or outdoor activities between 11am and 4pm. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, especially those who are fasting, and drink less sweet, caffeinated and carbonated drinks.

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“Avoid wearing thick, tight and dark-coloured clothes and limit strenuous physical activity and time outdoors.

“Use umbrellas and hats to avoid direct exposure and stay cool with fans and air conditioners, or take frequent showers,” it said.

“Avoid staying in enclosed vehicles in the hot sun without the air conditioning. Seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of heat-related illnesses.”

In George Town, health expert Dr Susan Loo Pooi San said heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are all possible with the heat, which could also lead to electrolyte imbalance and toxicity to the kidneys.

She said the body could become dehydrated through sweating and advised against strenuous exercise.

“People should stop if they feel light-headed or feel their heart is pounding too fast,” she said, adding that those aged below four and above 65 are considered high-risk.

“Obese people with body mass index (BMI) of over 30 are also at higher risk of heatstroke as their body fat acts as an insulator to slow down the cooling of the body,” said the consultant emergency physician of Sunway Medical Centre Penang.

She, too, advised people not to leave children in the car, to keep the air conditioning on and to have frequent showers besides wearing light-coloured clothes.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society council member Gina Koay said regular maintenance of air conditioners is also important.

“Over time, the filters of air conditioners can accumulate dirt, dust and other allergens that can harm the health.

“Clean air conditioners that are free from mould and bacteria growth will make a significant difference for those suffering from allergies or respiratory conditions,” she said.

Koay, who was the society’s former Penang chairman, added that excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea could lead to dehydration as they have a diuretic effect.

She also recommended taking Vitamin C and using sunscreen solutions.

“Sunscreen has various benefits, including the prevention of sunburn, lowering the risk of skin cancer and protecting against premature skin ageing,” she said.

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said another cloud-seeding exercise will be carried out over the water catchment areas of the Air Itam and Teluk Bahang dams, as the state fears a water shortage due to the lack of rain.

“As of now, the effective capacity of Air Itam dam is at 37%, a 5% increase from 32% previously.

“We have been reducing the daily drawdown from the dam,” Chow, who is PBAPP chairman, told reporters after launching a five-day “We Are Site Managers” international symposium in George Town yesterday .

Previous cloud-seeding operations above the catchment areas had failed to yield any rainfall on Feb 27 and 28.

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