Keep in the shade and drink plenty of water. | Josep Bagur Gomila

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Discomfort, dizziness, headaches, nausea and excessive sweating are all warnings from our bodies that the heat is not agreeing with us and that we need to stop. If we show other signs, such as an increase in temperature or loss of consciousness, we are suffering from heat stroke and need immediate help.

Spain and the Balearics are going through the second great heat wave so far this summer, which will reach its hottest point between tomorrow and Thursday, when temperatures will exceed 35 degrees in practically the whole of the mainland and the Balearics. In many areas the maximum temperatures will be above 40.

Faced with this situation, the health authorities are once again urging the population to be cautious in order to avoid, as far as possible, the impact of the heat on our health.

According to the latest report of the Daily Mortality Monitoring System (MoMo) of the Carlos III Health Institute, from 1 January 2020 to 5 July, there were 107,473 more deaths than expected, of which 7,377 were attributable to the heat.

So far in 2022 there have been 1,918 excess deaths due to temperature, the vast majority (829) in June, when the first major heatwave of the summer occurred. In the first five days of July, five people died from high temperatures, which does not necessarily mean that it was due to heat stroke, but also due to the aggravation of underlying illnesses.

Anyone can be affected by the heat. However, there are groups that are particularly sensitive, María del Campo, spokesperson for the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (semFYC), said.

She explained that these are the over-65s, people with chronic cardiovascular pathologies, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, renal insufficiency or neurological and psychiatric illnesses as well as children under four years of age, especially babies under one year old.

This is why the doctor stresses the importance of preventive activities, self-care and early detection of symptoms.

“It is very important to detect symptoms related to heat early: pay attention to any discomfort, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, cramps, excessive sweating or reddening of the skin”.
In these situations, it is advisable to stop the activity you are doing, rest in a cool place and drink water.

But if symptoms such as elevated body temperature or intense headache, fatigue or loss of consciousness appear, “we may be facing a case of heat stroke and should seek help immediately”; if they persist and there is no improvement, then see a doctor.

HOW TO COMBAT THE HEAT

What can we do to avoid this type of situation?
- Avoid going out of the house in the central hours of the day and activities that require physical effort;
- Do not leave people inside parked cars with the windows closed;
- If we have to go out, alternate periods of rest in the shade and stay hydrated;
- Keep houses cool, closing blinds and curtains on facades exposed to the sun and open them at night to ventilate and cool, and turning off artificial light and electrical appliances whenever possible;
- Keep medicines in a cool place;
- Clothing: Caps, hats, loose clothing that breathes, wear sunglasses with approved filters for ultraviolet radiation and sun protection for the skin;
- Food and drink: avoid large, hot meals, eat fruit and vegetables and drink water frequently. Avoid sugary and alcoholic drinks because they increase dehydration, as well as being harmful to health.