by: Ronaldo V. Mendoza, MD, MBA in Health
Based on PAGASA's data, Tuguegarao holds the record for the hottest temperature in the Philippine history, which was 42.2 degrees Celsius in May 1969. Early this month, the highest recorded temperature was reported 35.9 degrees Celsius. They are predicting a hot summer in the range of 25 to 36 degrees Celsius.
Illnesses and death related to extremes of temperature is preventable yet there is an increase in mortality every year. Elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress. These people are more likely to suffer from heat related illnesses because their body cannot immediately compensate or properly adjust to the heat by cooling down. This is normally done by sweating but in cases of severe temperature wherein the body cannot immediately adjust, damage to the brain and other vital organs can happen. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat stress if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. It is important to know what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death.
Air Conditioning - Adequate air conditioning at home is one of the most vital protective factors in preventing heat related illnesses during summer. Spending time in adequately air-conditioned public facilities like Shopping Mall is advisable.
Drink Plenty of Fluids - During summer, you need to increase your fluid intake. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. When exercising in a hot environment, adequate fluid intake is necessary. For heavy sweating, it is recommended that you use sports beverages containing salts and minerals. For elderly people and those with chronic illnesses, please consult your doctor first. People who overexert during work or exercise may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness.
Appropriate clothing and sunscreen - Wearing Light colored cotton clothes as often as possible since it can affect the body's overall temperature. Use protective sunscreen lotion before going out. People who are overweight are more prone to heat stress because they have a tendency to retain more body heat. Use umbrella when going out.]
Plan outdoor activities - Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches. If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned place. Avoid exposure to sudden change in temperature since any sudden change in temperature can be stressful to our body. Monitor those at risk like infants, young children and people 65 years and above; they may not compensate efficiently for heat stress and are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.