Most of us that visit Turkey regularly, or with a property in Turkey, have suffered dehydration and possibly heat exhaustion at some point. But do you know the symptoms and treatment of the heat related illnesses our wonderfully hot Turkish summers can impose? Do you know the difference between having a little too much sun and when to get yourselves to the doctors or emergency room? Given the high temperatures in Southern Turkey at the moment, and the heat wave expected this week, it’s vital to know the warning signs of too much sun (read our article Ready for an African Heatwave?). Please read and take note of the following information taken from the NHS and WebMD websites and keep yourselves and those around you safe this summer. Knowing this could just save a life.
WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO SUFFER HEAT RELATED CONDITIONS? Anyone living or visiting hot countries like Turkey is more likely to develop a heat related condition. The NHS and WebMD suggest that the following people are particularly at risk during a heatwave:
- Pensioners/older adults especially with chronic conditions
- Babies and small children (under the age of 4) that can’t transfer heat well
- Those with diabetes, especially those insulin dependent
- Athletes and those that exercise to a great extent especially outdoors
- People taking medicines like diuretics, tranquilizers, heart medicines, blood thinners and pills for psychiatric disorders and depression
- Those overweight or obese
- Alcoholics and drug users
- Those living in properties without air-conditioning
DEHYDRATION. When the body becomes out of balance. It loses more fluid than it’s taking in. Dehydration ranges from mild to severe. The latter can be deadly if not treated.
Warning Signs & Symptoms:
- Dry mouth and increased thirst
- Feel the need to pee less often and darker coloured urine (deeply yellow, amber or brown)
- Feeling weak and sluggish
- Vomiting (See doctor if it lasts more than 48 hours)
- Diarrhoea (See Doctor if it lasts more than 48 hours)
- Increased core temperature (See Doctor if reaches 101 ̊F / 38.3 ̊C, Hospital immediately if over 103 ̊F / 39.5 ̊C)
- Inability to sweat*
- Chest pains, palpitations or rapid, jumping heart beat, difficulty breathing *(*Seek medical advice immediately)
Treatment: If you have a mild case of dehydration and wish to treat yourself at home, NHS Choices and Web MD websites suggest the following:
Drink Fluids: All those with dehydration, including those vomiting or with bad bellies, need fluids. Sip cool but not iced water (maybe through a straw if easier) and carbohydrate/ rehydration/electrolyte drinks (sachets are sold at pharmacies in Turkey). Sports drinks containing glucose and water based fruity lollipops are also ways to take in fluids (the latter works well with kids). Ayran (Turkish salty yogurt drink) is also recommended if your stomach can handle it. The salt helps replace and retain vital minerals lost via sweating.
- Cool Off: Ideally take off unnecessary clothing and lie down in an air-conditioned room. If AC is not available, use fans or lie in the shade and place cool damp towels around your neck, groin, ankles, wrists and armpits. These are the areas closest to your blood vessels so will cool the body down quickly. Avoid using iced water as this can shock your system thereby decreasing rather than increasing, heat loss. If you feel up to it, take a cool shower or bath to re-hydrate your skin and cool down. NB: If the symptoms persist or gets worse, seek medical advice.
HEAT EXHAUSTION A condition often accompanied by dehydration caused as a result of your body overheating. There are two types of heat exhaustion according to WebMD. The first is water depletion with signs including weakness, excessive thirst, headache and loss of consciousness in some cases. The second is salt depletion where signs include muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Heat exhaustion is not as serious as Heat Stroke but can lead to it if not addressed quickly.
Warning Signs & Symptoms;
- Dark coloured urine
- Profuse sweating
- Headache and dizziness
- Nausea, sickness and diarrhoea
- Rapid heartbeat or tight chest (Seek medical help immediately)
Treatment: Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which can be deadly. If symptoms do not start to ease within 15 minutes, seek medical advice according to WebMD. The treatments are similar to dehydration, but again in brief:
- Cool Off: Take off unnecessary clothing and lie down in a cool, shaded place (preferably air conditioned) and rest. Take a cool shower or bath (as above)
- Drink Fluids: Drink plenty of water, rehydration drinks etc and avoid alcohol and caffeine (as above)
HEATSTROKE (SUNSTROKE) True Heatstroke, often called Sunstroke, is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical treatment and hospitalisation. The medical definition is that it is a serious condition that occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches more than 105 degrees Fahrenheit thus risking damage to the nervous system and internal organs. It usually affects those over 60, under 4 and athletes. Heatstroke can also be caused by inadequate treatment of the above conditions – dehydration and heat exhaustion. It should be taken very seriously.
Warning Signs & Symptoms:
A body temperature of over 105˚F (40.5˚C) is the key warning, but fainting may be the first symptom.
- Throbbing headache
- Lack of sweating despite the heat
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Very hot, dry skin
- Shallow and slowed breathing
- Vomiting and nausea
- Staggering and confusion
Treatment: Call for an ambulance and seek medical treatment immediately. Whilst waiting for assistance, take the person to a cool, air-conditioned environment or shaded area and take off all unnecessary clothing. Fan the person whist applying cold water to their body and apply ice packs if available to their neck, groin, armpits and back (where the blood vessels are closest to the skin). If possible, immerse the person in a bath or in a shower of cool water. Be sure to tell the paramedics exactly what has happened and what you have done to get the temperature down prior to their arrival.
We here at Oceanwide Properties hope that none of you fall ill during the coming heat wave. You may be pleased to know that it is not just Turkey that is reportedly at risk of sizzling this summer, the UK may also experience some of the highest temperatures ever during late July and August if the Telegraph is to be believed. Their Science Editor, Sarah Knapton, reported on July 6th that “ by the end of July and beginning of August a second wave of very hot air is expected to push up from central and southern Europe bringing sweltering heat. Some forecasters predicted it could beat the all time record for Britain, when the mercury hot 101F (38.5F) at Brogdale in Kent on August 10th,2003”. She went on to say that the recent short lived UK heat wave triggered “a level two health alert” with emergency calls doubling in numbers. Well if the UK are worried at a little over 38 degrees, maybe we should all be cautious here in Turkey with temperatures rising well over 40 degrees during the summer on a daily basis!
Be sure to stay safe and happy this summer. If you do need emergency help remember the following numbers:
Emergency Ambulance – Call 112
Fethiye State Hospital – +90 (0) 252 614 4017
Fethiye Esnaf Private Hospital – +90 (0) 252 612 6400
Fethiye Letoon Private Hospital – +90 (0) 252 646 9600
Disclaimer: This blog article is meant for information purposes only with the information taken from NHS and WebMD websites. Oceanwide Properties are not medically trained so please, if in doubt about your own, or someone else’s medical condition, seek the advice of a medically trained professional.
Lead photo by Jeff Golden on Flickr.