Blog by Jeff Hayward, www.activebeat.com
We’re coming into the warmer season, and for states that are already relatively warm for most of the year, that means they’ll be especially hot. While that means sipping beverages on patios and lounging on beaches, it also means certain health considerations.
Enjoying the sun and outdoors during the late spring and summer (and into early fall) is something many Americans look forward to, especially those in northern states that are covered in snow 6-months a year. However, here are seven ways the high temperatures should have you on higher alert…
- Heat Stroke
Scientific America notes that sustained extreme heat can overwhelm the mechanisms in your body meant to regulate temperature, such as sweating in particular. In fact, ” When a person is exposed to heat for a very long time, the first thing that shuts down is the ability to sweat,” notes the article.
The problem with this is that sweat has a cooling effect when it evaporates, and if you stop sweating, then obviously this benefit dissipates, too. It doesn’t take long after that point for a person to suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, the latter which is when your core temperature climbs above 104-Farenheit and becomes a medical emergency as it can damage internal organs, including the brain.
- Heightened Aggression
Wired magazine shares an article entitled “The Hazy Science of Hot Weather and Violence,” which explains there’s some loose evidence linking higher temperatures and more aggressive behavior. In fact, it points out people with short tempers are called “hotheads,” apparently in reference to being affected by too much direct sun.
High heat deprives your body of precious water perhaps faster than you think – The Weather Channel notes if you’re exposed to direct sunlight in temperatures of 90-Farenheit or higher, “the body can lose as much as half a gallon of water every 10 minutes.”
This condition, which is basically the flipside of what happens to your body’s internal temperature if you fell into an icy lake, is the inability to regulate its temperature – due to not being able to properly flush out sweat.
Just like low humidity, high humidity (lots of moisture in the air) poses health risks as it makes it more difficult for sweat on the surface of your skin to evaporate due to the air already being so saturated, according to UPMC Healthbeat. Symptoms of hyperthermia include fatigue, cramps, and even fainting, it adds.
- Lowered Productivity
High heat can put us into summer slumber mode, where we really don’t feel like doing much of anything except lounging by a pool or in the middle of a field (whichever is closer). Bustle.com explains your body uses up energy from glucose (sugar) when trying to regulate its temperature. “When trying to cool itself down, the body uses up more energy than when it’s warming you,” it adds. Not only that, the source notes research has found that critical thinking is negatively impacted it hotter conditions, making decisions harder.
- Breathing Difficulties
Rising heat and humidity can make it tough to breathe for some, especially if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma. The Cleveland Clinic says, “Although it’s true you can’t change the weather, you can take steps to adapt”. This can be trying to minimize temperature fluctuations as much as possible, like when you’re going from a hot environment to a cool one (and vice versa).
Of course, you should be seeing a doctor if you’re having labored breathing in hot conditions. “In most cases, shortness of breath is not normal,” explains the source. A physician may prescribe medications to help with inflammation causing breathing troubles, or recommend an inhaler to open up air passages.
- Nervous System Disruption
A post from Illinois State University says, “Even a small increase in temperature can have devastating effects on nervous system functions”. A small rise in temperature of 5 to 7-degrees Fahrenheit, “similar to a strong fever,” can spell trouble for nerve endings, notes the source.