WHAT HOT WEATHER DOES TO OUR BRAIN & HOW TO PREVENT IT: SUNDAY MIRROR

The temperature is on rise across the north hemisphere. The day is lengthening and night is shortening. With summer and scorching heat, come ailments which occur due to high temperature.

Our brain and other organs of our body can function best in a temperature around 20 degree Celsius. In common man’s language it’s called room temperature. In this temperature all hormones and enzymes work in a perfect synchronised way. The USA pharmacopoeia-National Formulary (USP-NF) definecontrolled room temperature as between 20 to 25 °C (68 to 77 °F).(1)

Hypothalamus- the temperature regulator

The WHO’s 2018 guidelines give a strong recommendation that a minimum of 18 °C (64 °F) is a “safe and well-balanced indoor temperature to protect the health of general populations during cold seasons”. Minimal-risk high temperatures range from about 21–30 °C (70–86 °F) depending on the region, with maximum acceptable temperatures between 25–32 °C (77–90 °F). But due to bad effects of global warming the temperature of earth is on rise. In many places of the world the temperature is above 40 °C in summer. (2)

Effects of hot weather

Our hypothalamus in our brain controls body temperature by several mechanisms. Sudden increase in body temperature stands as a stressful condition to our brain. Heat stress can result in simple tiredness to severe diseases like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rashes and heat syncope. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are most dangerous heat related illness.

Heat illness by CDC

Why we feel tired in hot climate?

We feel very exhausted while working in hot and humid climate or in outdoor sports. Many people feel sluggish, lethargic and sleepy during hot weather. Some feel very irritable. This happens because our hypothalamus has to use excess energy to keep our temperature in normal range for better function of all organs of our body. Dehydration and stress make situation more disastrous.

Heat cramps & Heat syncope

Due to excessive heat our body sweats much, loosing salts from our body which causes pain in our muscles. Sometimes people faint in hot weather.

Heat exhaustion

It’s an extreme form of tiredness due to hot weather. We lose much water of our body by sweating. It causes excessive thirst, dark coloured urine, muscle fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness and fainting along with nausea and vomiting. The person must be taken into cooler environment and kept hydrated. Urgent medical care to be sought.

Heat stroke

It is most severe form of heat illness. In this condition the temperature control mechanism of our brain is lost due to rapidly increasing body temperature. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. The person stops sweating, high temperature, headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness and loses consciousness. The patient needs urgent hospitalisation. The heat stroke fever (hyperpyrexia) can cause sudden death.

Heat exhaustion vs heat stroke

How to prevent heat illness (3)

Hydration

Regular water intake in hot climate prevents heat illness. It keeps our internal temperature in check. It reduces excess pressure on our kidneys. Decrease alcohol, coffee, excess sugary drinks. Hydration is the heat stroke first aid along with cooling.

Acclimatization

Slowly increase in working hours in hot weather helps our body to adjust in hot climate.

Rest break

Employers should ensure and encourage workers to take appropriate rest breaks to cool down and hydrate. It will help our body to adjust.

Avoid working in maximum temperature

Working hours may be changed for better adaptation. Heavy works can be done in less temperature.

Sleep well

Good sleep decreases stress hormones. When temperatures stay warm overnight, as many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep while our rooms are stuffy and hot. 

Decrease stress level

Stress affects our metabolism negatively causing several problems in adaptation in hot climate.

Use protective covering in sun

Light and loose garments, cap and dark goggles help in limitation of sun exposure.

Monitor Those at High Risk

Although anyone at any time may suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others like infants and young children, people 65 years of age or older, people who are overweight, people having cardiovascular disease etc.

So let’s keep ourselves hydrated in this summer and help our brain in regulating our body temperature.

Please read and share.

– Are heat strokes deadly: yes
– Can heat stroke kill you: yes
– Can heat stroke cause seizures: can cause
– Can heat stroke give you a fever: very high temperature called hyperpyrexia

#heat stroke meaning
#heat stroke and heat exhaustion
#heat stroke and hypothalamus
#the heat stroke signs
#heat stroke brain damage
#heat stroke complications
#heat stroke can lead to unconsciousness and death

References

1: General Chapter < 659> Packaging and Storage Requirements” (PDF). United States Pharmacopeia. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-04-04.

2:WHO Housing and health guidelinesWorld Health Organization. 2018. pp. 34, 47–48. ISBN 978-92-4-155037-6.

3:https://www.cdc.gov/niosh

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