Home / Politics / Policy /  Heat wave death toll increases as doctors treat patients wrongly

New Delhi: Wrong treatment rather than soaring temperatures are responsible for most of the 2,200 deaths in India’s relentless heat wave, doctors said.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and deaths can be prevented if treatment is started early. The most common mistake in treating a patient with high fever due to heat stroke is giving anti-fever medicine and waiting for it to take effect, said A. Marthanda Pillai, national president of the Indian Medical Association.

In heat stroke, the body temperature usually crosses 40 degrees centigrade and the patient rapidly becomes disoriented. If not treated properly in time, most patients succumb to multi-organ failure.

According to doctors, very high fever from heat stroke can be reduced rapidly only by physical means. “Rapid reduction in body temperature can be achieved by cool or tepid (20 degree centigrade)—not cold —bathing, preferably using damp sponges."

“Submersion should be avoided so that body heat loss by evaporation can occur," Dr Pillai said.

Cooling blankets should also be avoided.

It is important to distinguish between a heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Unlike in a heat stroke, a patient suffering from heat exhaustion sweats. As long as the armpits are wet, the patient is in heat exhaustion and not heat stroke.

Andhra Pradesh has borne the brunt of the heat wave. According to the state government, 41 people died on Sunday, as the nationwide death toll touched 2,248. According to the Andhra Pradesh disaster management department, the heat wave has killed 1,677 people in the state since mid-April.

As of May 30, the toll in the state had reached 1,490. Prakasam district has recorded the highest number of deaths at 333, followed by Guntur (233), East Godavari (192), Visakhapatnam (185), Vizianagaram (177), Nellore (163), Krishna (78), Chittoor (64), Srikakulam (60), Anantapur (56), Kadapa (38), Kurnool (34) and West Godavari (23).

In neighbouring Telangana, 541 people have died. Sweltering conditions also persisted in Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal, with temperature hovering around 45°C in many of these states.

The highest maximum temperature of 47.1 degree celsius was recorded at Brahmapur in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region.

However, the mercury dipped to 36°C in Delhi on Monday.

(with inputs from PTI)

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