It was a scorching, humid day outside. Going out was like being in a sauna. Many of my patients worked outside. Others toiled away in huge metal structures with no air-conditioning. Each year, I would have to treat a large number of clients for hyperthermia. The strange thing is that the number of people who suffered from it was surprisingly low.
They worked that way for a long time because they had done it before. The seasons go by gradually, and their bodies adjusted as a result. Their bodies still needed assistance when the mercury climbed to over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. They’d mastered the secrets of how to thrive in hot weather.
Sweating, Blood and Oxygen: How Do You Adapt to the Heat?
Our bodies react to the heat in a variety of ways:
- More sweat is produced. Sweat evaporating from the skin has a cooling effect. Our bodies produce twice as much sweat and begin to sweat at lower temperatures to survive the heat.
- Because our sweat contains less salt, we become more hydrated.
- Our heart rate increases because we can now pump more blood with each beat. Our core and skin surface benefit from the circulation of blood.
- Our bodies use oxygen more efficiently. Our metabolism slows, and so does the heat it generates.
The body changes that result from heat acclimatization are known as heat adaptation, and they occur after a few days.
When the weather suddenly heats up, our bodies are caught off guard. Here are some survival tips to help you get through it.
How to Get Through the Heat If You Aren’t adapted
If you work outside:
- Because dehydration makes hyperthermia worse, drink a couple of glasses of water, juice, or sports drinks each hour. Heavy labor requires as much as a quart or two every hour. It doesn’t have to be incredibly cold. In fact, stomach cramps can occur if it’s just water. Caffeine, sweetened beverages, and alcoholic beverages all dehydrate you more effectively than water alone. And keep in mind that your doctor may prescribe restricting your fluids or salt intake; follow his or her instructions carefully.
- Before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., do the hard labor yourself.
- Take some shade breaks on a regular basis. Fan lightly. I’ll get to that later.
- Wear loose, breathable clothes.
- If you’re going to be in the sun a lot, apply suntan lotion on a regular basis, and get yourself a big-brimmed hat.
If you’re indoors and without air conditioning, keep these points in mind:
- Open windows and set up a fan. It is critical to have good air ventilation.
- When the heat reaches into the nineties, fans may help you feel more comfortable, but they can’t cool down your body temperature. A high humidity can also make perspiration difficult to evaporate. This is especially hazardous for persons whose bodies don’t react as well as others do, including those older than 65 years old, infants under the age of four, and individuals who are physically active.
- A refreshing morning shower, bath, or sponge is the best way to start your day.
- It’d be fantastic if you could go to an air-conditioned facility (mall, senior center, adult day-care) during the heat of the day.
- Twice a day, check on your at-risk family, friends, and neighbors. Make sure they are hydrated and seem well.
Do you have any more ideas for how to survive the heat?
Photo by Jorge Bermudez/Unsplash