Summers are getting hotter. Have you noticed?
The worst that the World Health Organization predicted in 2018 is happening: “Global temperatures and the frequency and intensity of heatwaves will rise in the 21st century as a result of climate change. Extended periods of high day and nighttime temperatures create cumulative physiological stress on the human body which exacerbates the top causes of death globally, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and renal disease.”
When you get hot, your heart beats faster. It does that in order to pump more blood to your skin, where it can release some of that extra heat. As a result, other parts of your body may not get enough blood. This could make you tired and sluggish, especially if you’re trying to do hard physical or mental work.
When you’re hot, you sweat. That makes you lose fluids and electrolytes. In addition, heat makes your blood vessels dilate to increase sweating. Together, these things can drop your blood pressure, sometimes enough to make you dizzy or even pass out. It could be even worse if your heart doesn’t pump normally and isn’t able to adjust to the greater demand.
When it’s very hot, you can sweat away too much fluid, along with essential minerals like sodium and potassium. You may be thirsty and pee less than usual, and your mouth and tongue might feel dry. You could even feel dizzy, lightheaded, and confused.
“If your body is overheating, and you have a high temperature, bumps on your skin, muscle spasms, headache, dizziness, nausea or a number of other symptoms, you may have one of the most common heat-related illnesses: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat illnesses range from mild to severe, and heat stroke can be deadly.”
Here are a few things you can do to avoid ever dealing with heat related illness:
- Drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which dehydrate you.
- Eat lighter meals, more often.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Check on loved ones who live alone or don’t have air conditioning.
- Stay inside as much as possible and avoid outdoor chores.
- Never leave a child or pet alone in a car, even if it’s not that hot outside.
Excessive heat is hard on the body and the mind. Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Do things that you enjoy and focus on things that make you happy. You can’t turn down the outside temperature like a thermostat, but you can control it’s effect on you.
Remember, treat heat with respect. It can be a killer.