Hot, dry and under the weather

People at the Toa Payoh North Clinic, a private general practitioner (GP) clinic, on 28 November 2011.

SINGAPORE - The recent dry spell has caused more Singaporeans to feel, well, under the weather. General practitioners (GPs) MyPaper contacted yesterday noted that more patients were showing up with sore throats, coughs and headaches - an increase of up to 20 per cent.

The hot weather, they said, is to blame for the spike, as it can easily cause dehydration.

The 27-day period from Jan 13 to Feb 8 this year marked the longest time Singapore has gone without rain in 50 years, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Rain, however, is still scarce, with only brief showers in western Singapore last Sunday.

The ongoing haze is also compounding matters, said Killiney Family & Wellness Clinic's Dr Clarence Yeo.

While the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index reading registered a range of 32-28 as of 5pm yesterday, which puts the air quality at a good level, people have complained about a "burnt smell" in the air recently.

"The noxious irritants from the haze can affect the respiratory tract, which makes breathing (difficult) for some people," said Dr Yeo.

To avoid a trip to the doctor's, GPs urged Singaporeans to hydratre.

This is especially so for those who work and play outdoors, said Dr Gregory Leong of Shenton Family Medical Clinic in Serangoon. "If you're perspiring a lot, go for an isotonic drink. It will replenish the salt content in your body, and make sure you stand up to the (heat)."

The NEA has said that the dry spell is likely to persist into the middle of next month.

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