Hot weather causes rise in heat injury cases, worsens skin conditions

2 weeks ago 104

SINGAPORE – As the mercury spikes, with record temperatures hitting 37 deg C in mid-May, hospitals and clinics here are seeing more patients with heat injuries and heat rashes or flare-ups of pre-existing skin conditions.

From about zero to two cases of heat injury a week between January and April, the number has increased slightly since May to four cases a week at hospitals under the National University Health System (NUHS) – which includes the National University Hospital (NUH), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) and Alexandra Hospital.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) has seen a 1½ times increase in heat injuries since April. In particular, the hospital saw cases of heat exhaustion jump to five in May, from one case in April.

Heat injuries can range in severity – from heat cramps, which are painful muscle spasms due to the dilution of electrolytes in the body caused by heat exposure, to heat exhaustion, where a patient is still alert but experiences body aches, dizziness and a fast heart rate due to heat exposure and dehydration.

The most dangerous and severe heat injury is heat stroke, where patients are confused, have a high body temperature of more than 40 deg C, and are at risk of multi-organ failure.

Dr Ong Pei Yuin, a consultant at NUH’s department of emergency medicine, said the spike in the number of cases corresponds with the higher temperatures that Singapore has been experiencing.

Most of the cases at the NUHS cluster were minor, and patients were discharged after treatment, said Dr Ong, adding that none of the cases in the past month were admitted.

Dr Kanak Naidu, a senior consultant at KTPH’s acute and emergency care department, said that people who work outdoors or engage in outdoor activities are more prone to getting heat injuries.

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