Even as summers have set in, India has started seeing extreme heat waves, which can be deadly especially for children, pregnant women and elderly, doctors said here on Tuesday.
On Monday, about 36 weather stations across the country, particularly in central and north India, recorded temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius.
Delhi registered a maximum temperature of 40.6 degrees Celsius, four notches higher than normal -- the third consecutive day that the maximum temperature settled above 40 degrees Celsius.
Talking to IANS, Dr Anup Latne, Consultant Internal Medicine, Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital Pune, said: "Extreme heat can be deadly, especially in India, where many lack access to adequate cooling."
While the effect of heatwaves on a human body can differ person to person, "children, pregnant women and senior citizens should take additional precaution to mitigate the effect of severe heat, and avoid going outdoors during the day".
These groups "are more likely to experience dehydration when exposed to extreme environmental temperatures", said Dr Rajiva Gupta, Senior Consultant - Internal medicine at the C.K. Birla Hospital, Gurugram.
In children, heatwave can lead to"dizziness, sweating profusely, nausea/vomiting and muscular cramps. In severe cases, individuals may also face heat strokes resulting in loss of consciousness and seizures", Dr Latne said.
Other adverse effects of heat include lethargy, body aches, weakness, and, in severe cases, kidney function disturbance, fall in blood pressure, and exacerbation of comorbidities for those who suffer from them.
In response to heatwave forecasts, several state governments have released guidelines for schools, including closure, no assembly during the afternoon, water breaks, etc.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has advised the public "to take precautions and stay hydrated during the hot weather".
"It is necessary to consume at least 2-2.5 litres of water daily. In case of any symptoms, water with salt, coconut water with salt, and lemon water with salt can be consumed. To prevent heat-related illnesses, one should avoid prolonged exposure to heated environments, avoid exercising in heat, and always seek shade," Gupta noted.
"Heatstroke is a serious medical condition that can be fatal if not treated promptly with rapid cooling," said Dr Ajay Aggarwal, Director and Head - Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital Noida.
He advised people to stay hydrated, take frequent breaks for hydration and cooling while exercising. "Limit physical activities that can increase your body temperature, especially during the hottest parts of the day," Aggarwal said.
Latne recommended expecting mothers to avoid caffeine as it can make them lose more fluids and worsen the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Instead, consuming beverages such as fresh fruit juice and buttermilk can help.
Reducing protein intake, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables with high water content, and wearing loose fitting clothes are other ways we can lower the effect of heat on our body, the doctor said.