Our Medical Director, Dr Tang Features in the press, revealing the lesser-known symptoms of heat exhaustion and given his top tips for staying safe in the predicted warmer weather.
As temperatures across the UK begin to soar this week, one of the UK’s leading GPs has issued a stark warning to Brits thinking about basking in the sunshine.
Ahead of Thursday, predicted to be the hottest day of the year, Dr Chun Tang, Medical Director at Pall Mall Medical, says: “We don't tend to get a lot of sunshine in the UK and so it’s understandable that, when we do, we want to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
“It’s important, however, to take extra precautionary measures to ensure you’re staying safe whilst exposed to UV rays and the heat, especially those who are more vulnerable.”
Dr Tang’s warning comes as last year alone, there was more than 3,000 excess deaths during periods of extreme heat, with the hottest day of 2022 seeing 638 deaths higher than the average in England.
“There are the more obvious signs that you have been overexposed to the sun, such as sunburn, nausea and fainting. But not all symptoms are as well-known and could be fatal if left untreated,” Dr Tang warns.
He continues: “Stomach cramps, muscle spasms and your skin actually being cold to the touch are some lesser-known symptoms of heat exhaustion, along with slurred speech, confusion and even seizures.
"Prevention is always the best policy and so it’s important to be aware of some simple ways that you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe in times of adverse heat.”
Here are Dr Tang’s top five tips to remember in a heatwave:
Look after those most vulnerable
Check in on your vulnerable family, friends and neighbours.
Ensure that there is ample circulation in their home by opening windows and positioning fans/air conditioning in high-footfall rooms like the living room, kitchen and bedroom.
Encourage them to stay as hydrated as possible. It may be easier to position bottles of water within arms’ reach if they have mobility issues which could deter them from refilling a glass from the tap.
If any signs of overheating occur, then you should remove excess clothing and cool down with wet flannels and fans. This especially applies to elderly people and young babies are particularly vulnerable when it comes to heat exhaustion.
SPF is vital when protecting your skin from sun burn and is a key preventative measure for skin cancer. As well as protecting your skin from permanent sun damage, sun cream can also help prevent heat stroke symptoms and exhaustion.
Always make sure you are topped with sun cream throughout the day. We recommend using SPF 50 and reapplying it every hour when exposed to sunlight.
It is important to drink more than you usually would when experiencing extreme heat, or a level of heat you’re not used to. Drink often, even when you’re not thirsty.
A good way to monitor your hydration is to check the colour of your urine. It should be relatively clear when you are hydrated. If it is orange or brown in colour, you need to increase your water intake.
Stay in the shade
Avoid sitting in the sun between 11:00 and 15:00 as these are the times when the sun is strongest. Either stay indoors or position yourself under a parasol or in naturally occurring shade. If you’re inside, try to stay on lower floors as these tend to be cooler due to rising heat.
Wear loose clothing
It is important during a heatwave to wear lightweight and light-coloured clothing. Breathable and loose-fitting fabric, such as linen, allows airflow around the body, aiding to keep skin cool throughout the day whilst protecting from the sun.