The body rids itself of excess heat by sweating, exhaling and by increasing blood flow to the sin, all of which allows heat to escape. Hot weather can overwhelm those mechanisms, especially if you go out in the midday sun.
Failure of the body’s cooling system may lead to relatively minor reactions that you can care for yourself. Sometimes, however, it leads to serious harm, even death. Heat illnesses can develop over several days, or they can strike during a single burst of strenuous activity in hot weather.
In the order of increasing seriousness, we have listed the various ailments associated with overheating:
- Heat Syncope, fainting caused by decreased blood flow to the brain when blood pools near the skin. Most victims regain consciousness quickly and feel better after spending a few minutes in a cool place.
- Heat Exhaustion, marked by muscle aches, nausea, and feverishness. Symptoms can also include clammy skin, diarrhea, rapid pulse, vomiting and weakness. Most people feel better after a few hours of rest and plenty of water.
- Heat Stroke, a potentially fatal failure of the body’s temperature-control system. Symptoms can include confusion, agitation, hyperventilation, racing pulse, lethargy, convulsions and prolonged unconsciousness. Body temperature soars, sometimes above 110 degrees F. Heat stroke can damage virtually every major organ. Doctors treat heat stroke by administering intravenous fluids to cool the body.
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