Understanding The True Toll Of Extreme Heat On Your Body

Things start to get serious when you progress past the sweating stage. Understanding The True Toll Of Extreme Heat On Your Body Giphy

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If you live anywhere across a huge swath of the United States and around the world, you’ve probably noticed it’s been awfully hot lately.

Records are being broken every day, including the planet’s all-time high temperature. So what are the real dangers of exposure to this extreme heat?

It’s a real killer

You might hear more stories about natural disasters like tornados and hurricanes claiming human lives, but the National Weather Service confirmed that it “is the leading weather-related killer in the United States.”

That means that as the mercury rises, so do your chances of becoming seriously ill or dying.

Things get progressively worse as your body attempts to adjust to the rising temperatures:

  • It starts with sweat, which can regulate heat in many cases.
  • From there, you can develop symptoms like fever, cramps, and muscle weakness.
  • The final stages are heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be deadly.

Know your risk

While anyone can fall victim to the serious consequences of extreme heat, certain segments of the population start out at an elevated risk. Among them are elderly folks, kids, those who are pregnant, and individuals with underlying health problems.

According to the National Institutes of Health: “Other at-risk groups include individuals working outdoors, outdoor athletes, the socially isolated and those with incomes below the federal poverty level, as well as communities of color.”

It’s a dry heat

If you’ve ever lived in the desert, you’ve probably heard (or said) to someone that it’s “a dry heat.” So is that actually easier on your body that elevated temperatures combined with humidity?

The short answer is yes. But even though dry heat allows more sweat to evaporate, thus cooling the body quicker, there is a limit. So wherever you live, stay hydrated and limit your time outdoors this summer.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee July 21st, 2023
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