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News Every Day |

Huge surge in people seeking NHS advice on heat exhaustion as temperatures soar – 10 red-flag signs you must know

THE number of people seeking NHS advise on heat exhaustion have surged as temperatures soar across the UK.

The NHS said page views on their heat health advice have more than doubled in the past 48 hours after Brits were warned to expect temperatures as high as 31C.

Getty
Heat exhaustion can cause excessive sweating, as well as tiredness, nausea and cramps[/caption]

It comes after NHS leaders warned that services would face “major disruption” as a result of hot weather and the upcoming junior doctor’s strike.

Yellow heat health alerts are in place for many parts of the country until Thursday, when medics will down tools for five days of industrial action.

These alerts are issued during periods of heat that might impact the health of vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people with multiple health conditions.

Charities have warned that people with dementia in particular can be at risk during soaring temperatures, asking people to check in on loved ones with the condition.

The heat health alert first came into force on Monday and since then the number of people seeking advice on coping with hot weather has rocketed, the NHS said.

Figures from NHS England, which runs the NHS website, show that there were 28,116 visits to the heat exhaustion page on June 24 and 25, compared with 13,598 over the weekend.

This amounted to an 107 per cent increase, with an average of one visit every six seconds.

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot and it doesn’t usually need emergency medical help if you can cool down within 30 minutes.

But if you can’t cool down within than time, it might turn into heatstroke, which needs to be treated as an emergency.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “We’ve seen a significant increase in people coming to the NHS website for heat-related health advice over the past 48 hours.

“The website has lots of useful tips including how to stay cool, the symptoms of heat exhaustion, what to do if someone is affected and when to seek medical advice.

“Warmer weather, along with the latest round of industrial action, will put extra pressure on NHS services and make the next few days very difficult.

“People should continue to use 999 in life-threatening emergencies and NHS 111 – via the NHS App, online, or by phone – for other health concerns.”

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  1. Tiredness
  2. Dizziness
  3. Headache
  4. Feeling sick
  5. Sweating or clammy skin
  6. Cramps
  7. Fast breathing or heartbeat
  8. A high temperature
  9. Being very thirsty
  10. Feeling weak

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down and given fluids.

The NHS advises moving them to a cool place, removing unnecessary clothing, giving them a rehydration drink or cool water and cooling their skin with water, a fan or cold packs wrapped in a cloth.

If their condition doesn’t start to improve after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place, call 999.

How to prevent heat exhaustion or heatstroke

  • Drink more cold drinks, especially if you’re active or exercising
  • Wear light-coloured, loose clothing
  • Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Avoid excess alcohol
  • Avoid extreme exercise
  • If you’re inside, close curtains, and windows if it’s hotter outdoors

Dementia hot weather warning

Alzheimer’s Society warned that dementia sufferers might be especially vulnerable to dehydration during this week’s hot weather.

People with memory problems can easily forget to drink water and they risk becoming easily dehydrated as temperatures soar.

Katherine Gray, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “People should absolutely enjoy the nice weather we’re finally having, but it’s important to note that high temperatures can lead to severe health problems for people with dementia unless they take special precautions to keep cool and well-hydrated.

“People with dementia may forget to drink enough fluids and wear suitable clothing.

“As the temperatures rise this week, we are urging families and carers to check in on people with dementia to make sure they are staying hydrated, wearing light clothes and keeping out of direct sun.

Popping round to check on a neighbour, friend or family member with dementia can help keep them safe during the hot weather.”

The charity advised leaving glasses or jugs of water within easy reach, sharing a drink with the person, leaving reminders to drink and providing foods with high water content.

What happens to your body during hot weather

WHILE many of us flock outside to bask in the sun when hot weather hits, warmer temperatures also come with health risks.

Here’s how hot weather can affect your body:

  1. You can get dehydrated – when your body is losing more fluids than it can take in. Dehydration can be dangerous if not treated
  2. You can overheat – can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  3. You can develop heat exhaustion and heat stroke – heat exhaustion doesn’t need medical attention if you can cool down within 30 minutes, but heat stroke should be treated as an emergency
  4. Hot weather places a strain on the heart and lungs – the majority of serious illness and deaths caused by heat are respiratory and cardiovascular. Older people, those with pre-existing health conditions and young children are particularly at risk.
  5. Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn and put you at risk of skin cancer – it doesn’t have to be hot for the UV index to be high

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • Older people – especially those over 75 and female
  • Those who live on their own or in a care home
  • People who have a serious or long-term illness including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease or some mental health conditions
  • People who are on multiple medicines that may make them more likely to be badly affected by hot weather
  • Those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and the very young, the bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer’s disease
  • People who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – those who live in a top-floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside

Sources: NHS, Met Office

Jelly Drops ‘water sweets’ are an alternative way to help people with dementia boost their daily water intake.

As well making sure your loved one with dementia is hydrated, the charity provided the following tips for keeping them safe as temperatures soar:

  • Make sure they’re dressed in light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres to prevent overheating. A hat or cap for outside is also a good idea.
  • Keep the curtains or blinds closed during the day – especially in sunny, south-facing rooms – can help to keep things cool. In the evening, open the windows to let the warm air out and colder air in.
  • Avoid the sun when it’s hottest – between 11am and 3pm. If you’re out and about, seek out plenty of shade. Wear a hat and keep a bottle of high factor sunscreen on you to reapply regularly.
  • ry putting a frozen bottle of water or ice pack next to a fan, for some DIY air-conditioning. Or place a washcloth and some iced water nearby.
  • If you don’t live near the person or are worried about someone, ask a friend or neighbour to pop in and make sure they’re OK.
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