Nervous system is responsive for healthy body temperature. When the temperature increases, your body tries to recover its normal condition by providing heat. With blood flow to the skin and sweating it performs thermoregulation which helps us to stay cool. But when the body can no longer transfer enough heat to make us feel cool, there occurs a heat-related illness.
Hyperthermia also known as high body temperature can develop fast in extremely hot environments. One of the examples can be a child left in the car during the summer heat. Hot temperatures can also appear in small spaces with poor ventilation, such as boiler rooms and attics. People who work in such environments are under the risk of developing of hyperthermia.
It is very important to distinguish high body temperature caused by fever and the one caused by heat-related illness. While the fever is a normal reaction of the human body to infection, heat-related illness causes high-body temperature as a result of inability to transfer heat effectively or because of extreme external heat.
When it comes to heat-related illnesses, it is necessary to mention:
- Prickly heat (or heat rash) that appears when the sweat that moves to the skin becomes blocked, that brings itching and sense of discomfort.
- Heat cramps that appears in your muscles after a workout when sweating makes your body to lose salts, water and minerals (electrolytes)
- Heat edema (also known as swelling) in your hands and legs, which appear when you stand or sit for a long period of time in a very hot environment.
- Heat tetany (heat stress and hyperventillation) occurs when you face short period of stress in a hot environment.
- Fainting or heat syncope can happen because of low blood pressure. The heat makes your blood vessels to expand and all body fluids move into your legs in the result of gravity.
- Heat prostration or exhaustion usually develops when a person is exercising or working in hot environment (weather) and doesn’t consume enough fluids to replace the lost liquids.
- Sunstroke (or heatstroke) is the hardest condition when the human’s body can’t regulate its own temperature anymore and it continues to rise. Sunstroke is a medical emergency. You should realize that even in case of immediate treatment it can cause serious long-term problems or even become life-threatening.