Health

How Heat Impacts Your Health

We are endotherms (warm-blooded), like other animals and birds, thus our ideal body temperature (about 36.8°C +/- 0.5) is very little affected by the surrounding environment.

At 37 degrees Celsius, our bodies still produce extra heat through metabolic processes. Sweat evaporates from the skin and releases this extra heat into the atmosphere. When the air around us is warm and humid, we lose less heat, thus our internal temperatures rise.

When does overheating become a problem?

When the human body is unable to cool down sufficiently, heat exposure can prove fatal. We start to feel tired when our body temperature exceeds 38.5 degrees Celsius. When our body temperatures climb over the optimal range for our vital organs including the heart, brain, and kidneys, a cascade of symptoms begins to manifest.

In the same way that a microwave may alter the structure of an egg, heat can alter the structure of proteins in the human body.

Most individuals cannot survive temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius

The heart’s job as a pump is to keep the blood pressure at a healthy level. Filling the body’s already-expanded blood capillaries with heat, it delivers oxygen-rich blood to working muscles and organs.

The cardiovascular system has to work more than usual when people are exposed to high temperatures. Both the intensity and frequency of contractions need to be increased (your heart rate).

Muscles require a boost in blood flow if they are also to contribute to the task being done

In the event that this takes place while the body is already dehydrated from excessive perspiration, resulting in a smaller blood volume, the heart will have to work much harder to keep up.

Sweat is easily absorbed by dry air, but not humid air, making the latter more intolerable.
Being a muscle itself, the heart requires an increase in blood flow when exerted. However, it can become overworked and eventually fail if the rate at which it pumps blood is greater than the rate at which it receives it. Heat-related heart attacks account for a disproportionate number of reported fatalities during hot weather.

This precariousness is exacerbated by obesity. Insulating the body and providing the heart with a wider network of blood arteries, fat plays a dual role. More heat is generated by the muscles as they work harder to lift and carry the heavier load.

Too much exposure to UV rays can cause DNA damage in skin cells. Repeated sunburns cause DNA damage, which in turn can cause cells to multiply uncontrollably, eventually leading to skin diseases.

Brain

When the body temperature rises, it might be difficult to concentrate. Extreme heat has been demonstrated to impair cognitive function. Brain function, judgement, and the likelihood of getting hurt on the job all take a hit as the temperature rises. The blood-brain barrier becomes permeable at very high temperatures. Inflammation is brought on by a buildup of proteins and ions in the brain.

Extreme heat has been shown to have severe effects on mental health, and many people report feeling angry on hot days. Substance misuse, mood and anxiety problems, schizophrenia, and dementia were shown to increase on hot days, according to a recent study conducted in New York.

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