How Heat and Humidity Affect The Body

by Michelle on June 19, 2018

With temperatures rising it is important to know exactly how heat and humidity affect the body! Knowing and understanding this will help protect you and keep you safe!

Summer can be either dry or humid…or both…depending on where you live.  Either way, heat can negatively affect how the body functions if proper precautions aren’t taken.  Add humidity to the heat and the potential for dangerous results multiplies. Knowing how heat and humidity affect the body is critical to keeping you safe! 

Hot weather can obviously make you hot…that’s a given…but heat is also generated by the body when it’s active.  Three-Fourths of the energy we convert from physical activity turns into heat, only one-fourth into motion. When the body is active it usually generates more heat than it needs and has to release it somehow…this is when sweating occurs.  The body draws water from the bloodstream to make sweat that carries heat through pores and onto the skin surface where it evaporates and releases the heat…cooling the body. Staying hydrated is how this process works properly, cools you down, and keeps you safe when overheated.  

With temperatures rising it is important to know exactly how heat and humidity affect the body! Knowing and understanding this will help protect you and keep you safe!

Humidity is when there is an excessive amount of moisture in the air that prevents proper evaporation of sweat and keeps your body temperature high.  Once the air has too much moisture relative to the sweat you’re producing the sweat can’t evaporate and you remain too hot…along with being sticky. This is a dangerous situation that keeps your core temperature too hot and can lead to heat exhaustion.  You also lose water, salt, and electrolytes that the body needs to function.

So how can you combat heat and especially humidity so you aren’t suffering from the ill effects?  There are a few key things you can do if you notice you’re feeling overheated, fatigued, have a headache, increased pulse, and you can’t cool down:

  1. Seek shade and a cooler environment in extreme heat or overexertion  
  2. Go into a humidity controlled room (or one that’s cooled via central air) if humidity is leaving you feeling sticky and you can’t cool down
  3. ALWAYS drink plenty of water to stay properly hydrated (avoid alcohol and sugary juices)
  4. Use fans, cooling towels, wraps, clothing, etc. to maintain a proper core temperature
  5. Eat cool foods (cucumbers, watermelon, apples, etc.) and avoid warm or hot fare; eat vegetarian to avoid the energy expenditure that protein metabolism causes

 

Sometimes it’s not so easy to avoid overheating, but with a little bit of knowledge maybe you can avoid suffering when it does happen.  Always stay hydrated as the first line of defense against problems and plan ahead as much as possible to enjoy the warmer weather without issue.

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