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Heat related illnesses as Jamaica braces for heat wave

Jamaica is bracing for an extended heat wave, the Health Ministry is urging persons to take the necessary precautions as excessive heat stress is harmful to health and is potentially fatal. 

The Meteorological Service is predicting that Jamaica will record extremely high temperatures until August.

In a news release Tuesday, Dr. Nicole Dawkins-Wright, Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services in the Health Ministry, said heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat cramps, and the most severe illness, heat stroke.

She cautioned that heat stroke may be fatal.

Signs associated with a heat stroke include a very high body temperature, hot and dry skin, a throbbing headache and dizziness. 

Other signs include altered mental state or behaviour, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate.

Dr. Dawkins Wright said if any of these signs are noted, persons should seek medical assistance immediately.

Extreme heat stress may also trigger decompensation in some medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.

Some persons are also at greater risk of being affected by heat.

Among the most vulnerable are the elderly, as well as infants and children younger than six years of age, persons who are overweight and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

In order to prevent illness associated with the heat, members of the public are encouraged to: hydrate with cool water, especially when it is hot and humid, drink more fluids, limit or avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and beverages that contain alcohol as well as drink more water during and after vigorous activities.

The public is also advised to avoid crowded locations and ensure that their homes are well ventilated.


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