DHO Islamabad Issues Heatstroke Advisory for General Public

The office of the District Health Officer (DHO) at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination has issued a detailed heatwave advisory for the general public, urging people to take immediate action to avoid heatstroke-related deaths and illnesses.

The advisory issued by the DHO ICT, Dr. Muhammad Zaeem Zia, warned that May, June, and July are extremely hot and the heatwaves caused by global warming and climate change are expected to increase the risk of illness and death.

Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat-related sickness and may be fatal or can result in lifelong impairment if not treated immediately.

Causes and Symptoms

As per the advisory, when the body’s temperature increases rapidly, the sweating process fails and the body is unable to cool down. This is known as hyperthermia. The body’s temperature may rise to 41.11 °C or more within 10 to 15 minutes if heatstroke develops.

“Common clinical features of heatstroke include profuse sweating or the absence of sweating with hot red or flushed dry skin, weakness/lethargy, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, hallucinations, confusion/dizziness, and slurred speech,” it read.

Who is at Risk?

The advisory detailed that infants, the elderly, athletes, and outdoor workers are at high risk for heatstrokes. People should also avoid leaving children or animals in parked vehicles.


It was advised in the advisory to “drink plenty of water while limiting time in direct sunlight in hot/humid weather or in places with high environmental temperatures, avoid becoming dehydrated and refrain from vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather”.

Moreover, people working under the sun should keep drinking water and fluids, and take some time out to avoid dehydration and heatstroke.

Patients should avoid caffeine and sugary soft drinks and/or tea, which may exacerbate dehydration.

“Consume salty foods, use an umbrella, and wear hats, light-colored, light and loose-fitting clothes during the hot/humid environmental conditions,” the advisory read.

It is advisable to rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms, or abdomen), and drink oral rehydration solutions (ORS) containing electrolytes. It is important to drink fluids. Medical attention is needed if heat cramps last for more than one hour.

Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist.

How to Treat Heatstroke

Patients with heatstroke must receive immediate treatment and management, according to the advisory. It contains the following recommendations as well:

  • If a person shows symptoms of heatstroke, call a doctor/ambulance immediately.
  • While waiting for help, move the person to a shady area/cool place, place them in a horizontal position, and elevate their legs and hips.
  • Remove unnecessary clothing and initiate external cooling. This can be done by placing cold packs on the neck, armpits and, groin, fanning continuously, and spraying the skin with water at 25-30 °C.
  • Measure the body temperature.
  • Do not administer acetylsalicylic acid or paracetamol.
  • Position an unconscious person on their side.
  • Contact nearby emergency services immediately as severe cases often require hospitalization and intravenous rehydration.
  • If the patient is able to drink liquids, they should be given plenty of cool water while in a sitting position.
  • Maintain intravenous fluids and hospitalize if required.
  • Monitor the body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops from 38.33 °C to 38.88 °C.
  • Antipyretics may be given once the body temperature drops to 38.33 °C or below.