While hurricanes are known for causing rapid and often devastating physical destruction, they can also cause equally severe emotional damage, said Dr. Janette Nesheiwat on Saturday, October 1. 1.
“It’s a traumatizing experience,” Nesheiwat, a board-certified emergency and family physician and Fox News medical contributor, said during a “Fox & Friends Weekend” segment.
“You almost lost your life, or lost all your belongings. It’s a shock to the body.”
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This shock, he explained, can result in unclear decision-making on the part of the victims.
After a storm, he said, “you’re distraught, you’re stressed, you don’t know what to do, you don’t know where to go, and that’s where you make bad decisions.”
Nesheiwat added, “That’s when PTSD sets in. That’s when infections start.”
Dirty floodwaters can be another source of problems, Dr. Nesheivat said.
These floodwaters are often teeming with bacteria, which can infect cuts or scrapes on the skin. Infections, if left untreated, can become serious.
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“It’s full of sewage, chemicals, debris, glass, rusty metal and that sort of thing,” he said.
Nesheiwat noted that after Hurricane Katrina, she encountered many patients suffering from ulcers, respiratory problems and other infections that arose after the storm.
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Additionally, Nesheiwat expressed concern about the improper use of generators in the event of a power outage.
If people are not careful, they can be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly.
Nesheiwat returned to the topic of mental health issues during extreme weather events.
“The mental aspect of this, the emotional trauma, is really devastating,” he said, and should be handled with the same concern and attention given to physical health issues, he suggested.
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“Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy said parents who “suppress some of their stress to keep [their] quiet kids” are also under pressure.
Health problems are compounded for medically vulnerable people, especially the elderly, Nesheiwat said.
He advised that these people, before any storm, take extra precautions, like making a “ready to go kit” and making sure medications are packed so they stay dry and undamaged.
These bags should contain identification, money, chargers, a couple of dry clothes, snacks and some water, he said.
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“The best thing you can do is always, before anything else, heed warnings from local officials,” he said.
Those who have elderly or vulnerable neighbors should check on them, he said, and use specially created hotlines for assistance if needed.
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In terms of all those who have reached out to others in this time of need, Dr. Nesheiwat said, “It’s beautiful to see the community coming together, working together, supporting each other.”