• Dr. Lawrence Afrin

Top 5 Signs Your Body is Overheated this Summer

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

When someone is overheated, it means that the body was exposed to heat, humidity and or overexertion and couldn't control the internal body temperature enough through sweating. There are different stages of overheating. The worst is a heat stroke, when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher.

Why is it dangerous to be overheated?

Overheating can lead to death if not treated emergently. The most severe form of overheating is heat stroke, but exposure to high temperatures can lead to other heat related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash and heat syncope (fainting). These milder forms of overheating can progress to heat stroke, so it is important to address them immediately. Getting out of the heat and into a cool place, drinking lots of water, cooling the body down with cool water or ice packs and lying or sitting down can all help. A heat stroke occurs if the body temperature continues to rise uncontrollably and this is can be fatal, so prevention and quick intervention are critical.

What can cause someone to be overheated?

Exposure to prolonged heat along with dehydration can cause someone to become overheated. The elderly are at highest risk for heat related illness because the aging body has more difficulty regulating internal temperature. People who take certain medications, especially those that can dehydrate them, such as diuretics, and those that have medical conditions that cause them to be weaker are more susceptible to getting overheated. People who exercise outdoors in the heat and humidity and who do not adequately hydrate themselves are also at risk for overheating.

Top 5 warning signs your body is overheated

  1. Headache. Heat-related headaches are caused by dilation of blood vessels in the brain. It can be an early sign of heat exhaustion, but can also indicate heat stroke, especially if the headache is throbbing. Treatment involves adequate hydration and cooling the body off. If you are someone who is prone to headaches in the first place, prevention is key. Avoid situations that can cause you to get overheated and drink plenty of fluids.

  2. Excessive sweating or no sweating. Initially, the body will try to cool itself off by sweating more. The sweating in heat exhaustion is profuse. But as one gets more dehydrated from all the sweating, the sweating can stop and this is very dangerous. Without sweat, the body loses its ability to cool itself off and the internal temperature will start to rise leading to heat stroke. The solution is to get out of the heat, remove heavy clothing and allow the skin to breathe, rehydrate immediately, and start cooling the body down with water or ice packs.

  3. Heat rash. Heat rashes occur when sweat ducts get blocked, often by heavy clothing, and the sweat gets trapped under the skin, causing it to get inflamed and swollen with red bumps, also known as "prickly heat.” Dress in loose, light clothing during hot, humid weather and stay in the cool shade to prevent this from happening

  4. Muscle Cramps. Muscle cramps are often an early sign of heat exhaustion and occur to large muscle groups, like quadriceps. It usually happens in people who are active outside in hot and humid weather and who are dehydrated and/or are deficient in electrolytes.

Treatment of cramps includes cooling the body down, hydrating and gently stretching the muscle that are cramping. Prevention involves avoiding exercise or work at the hottest time of the day and staying hydrated. Maintaining adequate electrolytes, with potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium, especially with physical activity, is important along with drinking enough water.

*For my full interview on overheating with Readers Digest, click here

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