Health update: Beware health impacts from soaring heat | Sunday Observer

Health update: Beware health impacts from soaring heat

The severe heat currently being experienced throughout the island where temperatures have soared to record levels in some parts of the country, and expected to climb further in the upcoming weeks, calls for early precautions Met Department sources have warned. Sources warned that the public if exposed to sudden heat could suffer from heat exhaustion and cramps. In extreme cases if subjected to excessive heat for long durations, they could even get heat stroke. Met sources urged the public to seek shade whenever possible when outdoors during the day, and to stay hydrated. Medical officials told the Sunday Observer that people felt the heat excessively because high humidity prevents evaporation of sweat into the sweat glands thus obstructing the natural cooling of the body. Symptoms of excessive sweating are ; parched mouths and great thirst, fatigue and skin ailments. “ Üse your umbrellas to ward off the burning sun. Avoid engaging in heavy labour activities during daytime. And stay hydrated as the body needs to replenish lost water from too much sweating”, a medical officer speaking to the Sunday Observer, advised the public.

Health Ministry to ban tobacco chewing in hospital premises

The Health Ministry has issued a Directive to all regional and base hospitals as well as medical health offices announcing a ban on the chewing and selling of betel quid, tobacco and arecanut products on hospital premises. The Directive comes in the wake of the rising prevalence of oral cancer where the majority of victims are underprivileged persons who resort to smokeless tobacco use, due to its low cost, compared to the normal cigarette the price of which has recently been raised.

The National Authority on Tobacco & Alcohol supported by the Sri Lanka Medical Association, in its health intervention and technology assessment has said, 25% of men and 5 % of women use smokeless tobacco products in Sri Lanka. Smokeless tobacco related cancers include lip, oral cavity, pharynx, lung and oesophagus . Health officials have said that the earlier ban had not covered betel chewing.

Smokeless tobacco products such as babul, beeda, pampara are illegally smuggled into the country from Pakistan and India and are locally manufactured without government approval.

According to Dr Hemantha Amarasinghe of the Institute of Oral Health, Maharagama, the new initiative will stop people from spitting on hospital premises and should be extended to all government institutions.

New statistics reveal that about 2,400 new oral cancer cases are found every year with 95% of them being habitual betel chewers. Bus drivers and three wheeler drivers are among the highest users of smokeless tobacco products due to their need to quench their hunger pangs while driving.

Body lotion sales to be regulated

The Consumer Affairs Authority ( CAA) is expected to introduce a law to regulate the sale of body lotion used for skin care. CAA chairman Hasitha Tilakeratne is reported to have said that he had already signed the relevant Gazette notifications which would be released shortly. “The law is expected to come into effect overnight. According to CAA sources producers and importers of skin lotions will be given a six month grace period to conform to its stipulations. Asked why the law was being introduced, sources told the Sunday Observer it was due to certain lotions found in the market to be harmful to the skin due to their low quality.

Dengue outbreak imminent following rains

Suspected Dengue figures have totalled 17,264 with 14 confirmed deaths up to May 4, Epidemiolgy Unit sources told the Sunday Observer. The highest number of suspected cases ( 2,665) were reported from Colombo, they said. The second highest number of dengue cases ( 1,510 ) have been reported from the Batticaloa district while the third highest number were from the Gampaha district.

The Colombo Municipal Council ( CMC) reported a total of 727 dengue cases during the same period while other parts of Colombo recorded a total of 1,938 cases. Sources said, the total number of dengue cases from the Western Province at present was 5,344 which is around 30% of the cases.

“Now that the rains have commenced and will intensify in the coming weeks, a dengue outbreak could be imminent. All those with fever for more than two days should report to a medical doctor without delay. They should refrain from taking home remedies and if they have fever they should rest. They should also only take paracetamol on doctor’s prescription and not other medications especially, non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as, Ibuforen which can lead to internal bleeding leading to Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever which could be fatal”, they said.

CMC Chief Medical Officer Dr Ruwan Wijeyaamuni told the Sunday Observer that with schools reopening for the new term, the CMC had taken the precaution of conducting an Anti Dengue Program in all schools since schools, temples and state offices were considered as high risk places for dengue breeding sites.