Rising Temperatures Result in Uptick of Heat Stress Illness in Malaysia

Are you feeling the heat even when you’re not doing much and just staying indoors?
Are you having difficulty sleeping due to the scorching weather at night?
Have you tried turning on your A/C to its fullest capacity but still not feeling any difference in the temperature? 

It is possible that you are feeling the effects of heat stress due to the changes in the climate.

There are 3 types of Heat Related illness

  1. Heat Cramps
  2. Heat Exhaustion
  3. Heat Stroke

Heat stress is a term that is used to describe a range of conditions where the body is under stress from the heat. It can result in several heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash, or heat stroke, each of which has unique symptoms and treatments. These symptoms can range from sweating profusely to dizziness, cessation of sweating, and even collapse.

Those who are most at risk of heat stroke are the elderly, children, and those with existing medical conditions, such as heart disease. Even young and healthy individuals can be affected by heat stress if they exert themselves physically in hot weather. Certain behaviors make individuals more vulnerable, such as drinking alcohol, participating in strenuous outdoor activities in hot weather, and taking medications that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or inhibit perspiration. Heat stress can also be induced by high temperatures, heavy work loads, and wearing clothes that are unsuitable for the heat and humidity.

The signs of heat stress can be overlooked by the victim as they may initially experience confusion or difficulty concentrating, which can be followed by more serious symptoms, including fainting and collapse. If heat stress symptoms appear, it is important to move the victim to a cool, shaded area, give them water, and seek assistance from a supervisor or another individual.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are a common occurrence among workers who engage in strenuous physical activity and experience profuse sweating. This type of sweating causes the body to lose both salt and moisture, and a deficiency in salt levels in the muscles can lead to painful cramps. In some cases, heat cramps can be an indication of heat exhaustion. Therefore, it is important for anyone engaging in physical activity in a hot environment to take extra precautions to ensure they stay hydrated and replenish their salt levels.


  • Muscle cramps
  • Pain
  • Spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a medical condition that occurs when the body is unable to regulate its core temperature due to excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. This can be caused by spending extended periods of time in a hot environment, or engaging in strenuous physical activity in a hot environment. People most at risk of developing heat exhaustion are the elderly, those with pre-existing high blood pressure, and individuals who work in a hot environment. People with these pre-existing conditions should take extra care to avoid heat exhaustion by drinking plenty of water, taking frequent breaks and avoiding extended exposure to the heat.


  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Decreased urine output

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency and the most severe form of heat-related illness. It occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature, resulting in a rapid and drastic rise in body temperature. The body temperature can reach 106°F or higher in as little as 10 to 15 minutes, and if left untreated, it can lead to permanent disability or death. Emergency medical treatment is critical in order to prevent life-threatening complications from heat stroke.


  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Fatal if treatment delayed

Heat Rash

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is an itchy and irritating skin condition caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. This condition is most common in young children, as their sweat glands are not fully developed and can easily become blocked. Heat rash appears as small red or pink bumps that can be found on the body, neck, chest and groin area. Other symptoms may include itching and stinging. To prevent heat rash, it is important to keep the skin cool and dry, and to wear loose-fitting clothing that is made of natural fibers. If heat rash does occur, it is often best to treat it with a cold compress and calamine lotion.

Heat Syncope

Heat syncope is a type of fainting episode or dizziness that often occurs when a person is standing for too long or stands up suddenly after sitting or lying down. There are various factors that can lead to heat syncope, such as dehydration and inadequate acclimatization to hot weather. Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water, and is a common cause of heat syncope. Acclimatization is when the body adjusts to the change in temperature and humidity, and a lack of acclimatization can lead to heat syncope. It is important to take steps to prevent heat syncope, like drinking plenty of water, taking regular breaks and avoiding strenuous activities in hot weather.


  • Fainting (short duration)
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness from standing too long or suddenly rising from a sitting or lying position


Rhabdomyolysis, commonly known as rhabdo, is a medical condition that is typically caused by extreme heat stress or vigorous physical exertion. When a person suffers from this condition, their muscle tissue is rapidly broken down, ruptured, and dies. As a result, electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream, which can lead to serious complications such as irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and damage to the kidneys. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing this condition.


  • Muscle cramps/pain
  • Abnormally dark (tea or cola-colored) urine
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Asymptomatic
  1. Heat stress related illness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/heatrelillness.html (accessed February 25, 2023).
  2. Heat and Health. (2018, June 1). Heat and Health. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-heat-and-health

  3. Heat Stress | Environmental Health and Safety | Iowa State University. (n.d.). Heat Stress | Environmental Health and Safety | Iowa State University. https://www.ehs.iastate.edu/services/occupational/heat-stress

  4. Climate change and health. (2021, October 30). Climate Change and Health. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-and-health?gclid=Cj0KCQiA3eGfBhCeARIsACpJNU_U3TM0bt2DSnrKT0yjvKrcdP07xmKS8KMfnoueil70NVYTYww5moYaAvoDEALw_wcB

  5. Heat-Related Illnesses (Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke). (2020, February 28). Heat-Related Illnesses (Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke) | Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/heatrelated-illnesses-heat-cramps-heat-exhaustion-heat-stroke

  6. Heat exhaustion – Symptoms and causes. (2021, July 1). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-exhaustion/symptoms-causes/syc-20373250


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