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Heatwave a very real danger to Gympie's most vulnerable

HEATING UP: Doctors have warned about the health risks posed by the ongoing hot weather.
HEATING UP: Doctors have warned about the health risks posed by the ongoing hot weather. Contributed

WITH the high temperatures and crushing humidity felt throughout Gympie expected to continue well into next week, medical professionals are warning residents about the potentially deadly effect it could have.

Forecasts have shown the mercury rising up to 40 degrees in some areas throughout the day, prompting concerns from the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association.

"Heatwaves are the most deadly natural phenomenon in Australia, claiming hundreds of lives each year,” Queensland AMA president Dr Chris Zappala says.

"All of us should take care, but it's particularly important for groups such as the sick, elderly, babies, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.”

The message of vigilance has been echoed by Gympie's own Dr Rod Day, who says the elderly population may not even know the danger they're in.

"The thing to keep in mind,” he said, "is that sense of hot and cold younger people take for granted often isn't as sharp for the elderly.”

"Many are in an enclosed environment most of the day. Some even keep a jumper on, and so there isn't that awareness of how dehydrated they could actually be.”

The major concerns that residents should be aware of over this weekend and the days ahead are heatstroke and exhaustion.

"The symptoms include a pale complexion, sweating, rapid heart rate, nausea and dizziness,” Dr Zappala says.

"If you start to experience these symptoms, you must take immediate steps to lower your body temperature - including lying down somewhere and rehydrating your body.”

If untreated, heatstroke and exhaustion can cause strokes, possible seizures, collapse, loss of consciousness and, in extreme circumstances, can be fatal.

Topics:  heat stroke hot weather

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