KUALA LUMPUR: Heatstroke should not be taken lightly as it can be fatal, cautioned a medical specialist.

A number of cases could attest to such view, the most recent being the death of a toddler aged two years and 10 months, in Langkawi, Kedah on July 22. The child was accidentally left in a parked car outside her grandfather’s house for about two hours.

The initial report showed the cause of death to be heatstroke.

In early 2017 in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, two teenagers found motionless inside a parked car were confirmed by a pathologist to have died of heatstroke.

In July 2013, Bernama reported that a three–year–old girl died of heatstroke and suffocation as confirmed by Serdang Hospital, after her mother unknowingly left her inside a car at a Subang Jaya school parking lot for more than five hours.

Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, a consultant paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist at KPJ Selangor Specialist Hospital described heatstroke as the last spectrum – from “heat cramps’’ to ‘’heat exhaustion’’ and finally heatstroke when the body temperature exceeds 40 C°.

He said those that tend to get heatstroke are children as they sweat less and are rarely thirsty before hydration steps in.

According to him, children are active even in a high temperature environment. The elderly, he said, also risked getting heatstroke if they don’t drink enough water.

“Heatstroke happens when the temperature of the surroundings rises. In Malaysia, the temperature rises in July and August. This is the time when heatstroke is likely to hit particularly schoolchildren who engage in outdoor sports activities in the middle of the day, “ he told Bernama when contacted recently.

Dr Zulkifli said the initial symptoms of heatstroke are fatigue and sore throat and spasms in the legs or arms.

“Heatstroke without prompt treatment can damage organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and liver and muscles,“ he added.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry does provide some tips in its MyHealth portal regarding on–the–spot management of heatstroke victims.

Firstly, the victim must be moved away from the sun to a shade or air–conditioned room.

Next, the victim must be ‘cooled’ with a damp blanket or sprayed with cold water, and provided fresh air.

“If the victim is conscious, provide a cold and fresh drink and seek medical help through 999,“ it said. — Bernama

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