Do you suffer from heat or a heat-related illness, are you already showing the signs? Read this list to find out how to act. Regardless of the weather conditions, the body works hard to maintain a normal temperature of 37°. When the temperatures are drastic, whether it’s a scorching hot summer day or a freezing winter morning, it can be even harder for your body to maintain that ideal temperature.
Even at rest, the human body produces a lot of thermal energy. When it is cool, your body expels this heat by radiation. The heat simply radiates from the body to the surrounding air. When it’s hot, your body sweats to keep you cool. Sweat rises to the surface of your skin. As it evaporates, you begin to feel cooler. When it is humid, it is more difficult for the perspiration on the surface of the skin to evaporate, because the air is already saturated with humidity. This is why people often say that it is not the heat but the humidity that makes being outside on a hot day unbearable. Although both play a role in overheating your body.
In other cases, sweating can occur without any external trigger. Knowing if you are at a higher than usual risk of suffering from heat-related illness, as well as the cause of your symptoms, can help you know what action to take.
This list of quick facts is a good place to start.
- 1 1. Extreme heat is dangerous and sometimes deadly
- 2 2. Men sweat more than women
- 3 3. You have up to 4 million sweat glands in your body.
- 4 4. Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats.
- 5 5. Overheating can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition
- 6 6. You can protect yourself from heatstroke by staying hydrated.
- 7 7. Infants and young children are at high risk for heat-related illnesses.
- 8 8. Certain groups of adults are also at high risk of illness from extreme heat.
- 9 9. Certain medications can put you at increased risk of heatstroke
- 10 10. About 3% of the population suffers from a health condition that leads to excessive sweating.
1. Extreme heat is dangerous and sometimes deadly
The elderly, young children and people with mental illnesses and chronic illnesses such as heart disease are most at risk, as well as athletes, people working outdoors.
2. Men sweat more than women
Although women have more sweat glands than men, men’s sweat glands are more active, causing them to sweat more than women. The more you sweat, the more easily you can become dehydrated, which can lead to other health problems.
3. You have up to 4 million sweat glands in your body.
There are two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Both produce fluids. The area of the brain called the hypothalamus controls body temperature by regulating sweat production and blood flow to the skin. The odor associated with sweat comes from the apocrine glands found in the armpits and in the genital area. The sweat from these glands produces an odor when it comes into contact with bacteria on the skin.
4. Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats.
The warning signs of heat exhaustion are: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, profuse sweating and headache. To treat heat exhaustion, move to a cool place, drink plenty of water, and soak in a cool bath or use cold compresses.
5. Overheating can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition
Heatstroke can occur when body temperature reaches at least 40 degrees. At this stage, your body loses the ability to regulate temperature on its own. Signs of heatstroke include muscle cramps, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, flushing, headache, mental confusion, and seizures. Call 911 if you see anyone exhibiting these symptoms. As with heat exhaustion, a person with heat stroke should be moved to a cooler location and given a cool bath or compresses.
6. You can protect yourself from heatstroke by staying hydrated.
Drink before you are thirsty. In extreme heat, caffeine and alcohol are best avoided. Wear loose clothing that allows air to circulate around you while you exercise, and avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest part of the day, which is often between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Instead, schedule your workout as close to sunrise or sunset as possible.
This is true for several reasons. They can’t control their environment (if left in a warm room, for example), they have a high metabolic rate, which means their body is constantly producing heat. Also, they are not able to sweat as much as adults. Never leave a child in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
8. Certain groups of adults are also at high risk of illness from extreme heat.
These include the morbidly obese, the elderly, and the immobile. Diabetics can also be sensitive to heat. If you have diabetes and are dehydrated from the heat, it can affect your blood sugar levels. Be sure to store insulin and other diabetes medications away from heat, as hot temperatures can damage them. People with multiple sclerosis may find that their symptoms get worse when they are hot. When heat raises a person’s body temperature, it becomes more difficult for the central nervous system to function properly.
9. Certain medications can put you at increased risk of heatstroke
These include certain types of allergy medications and antihistamines, blood pressure and heart medications, diuretics, laxatives, antidepressants, and seizure medications. Talk to your doctor about precautions to take if you are taking any of these medications.
10. About 3% of the population suffers from a health condition that leads to excessive sweating.
Called hyperhidrosis, this condition is characterized by overactive sweat glands, which causes profuse sweating. This health condition can be inherited or caused by other health conditions or medications, and can occur without heat triggering it. Treatments for hyperhidrosis include oral and topical medications.