The scorching heat has turned the emergency room into a crisis zone with patients with hyperthermia flooding in throughout the day. Hyperthermia is an umbrella term that refers to when the body temperature reaches dangerously high levels because of the heat.
The government has taken preemptive measures by sending out emergency disaster warning notices through text messages to citizens. However, reports have shown that the number of hyperthermia patients has been rising due to the messages not reaching those living alone or in poorly connected areas.
“Sweltering weather can lead to an increase in hyperthermia including heat exhaustion,” the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “People should be careful of their health, avoiding sunshine as much as possible and drinking water frequently while partaking in activities such as sightseeing, swimming, and climbing, among others.”
Despite the KCDC warnings, emergency room staff called for stronger measures against the heat, noting the flooding of hyperthermia patients.
The death rate from heat-related causes currently stands at 35 people. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that there were nearly 3,000 hyperthermia patients from May 20 to Aug. 3 who were diagnosed with heat stroke, fever, heat-related seizures, and heat-related edema, among others. About 950 people were the elderly over 65 years old, 255 were in their 20s, 330 were in their 30s, 435 were in their 40s, and 600 were in their 50s.
Professor Namgung In from Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine noted that the emergency room is currently overloaded with hyperthermia patients.
“Many patients are in critical condition, having lost consciousness, making the ICU overcrowded,” Namgung was quoted saying in his facebook. “Many heat stroke patients come in at the same time when the heat reaches its peak. I cannot even count how many people came in. The death toll is also rising.”
Hyperthermia comes in several stages with heat exhaustion being a common condition. The most severe stage is heat stroke, which can be fatal. Upon noticing symptoms such as irritability, confusion, coordination issues, and flushed skin, patients should try to get to a cold location, drink water or electrolyte-filled sports drinks, take a cold bath, and if symptoms don’t improve, then contact the local emergency services immediately.
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