In addition to being uncomfortable, blistering temperatures can also be dangerous. Heat-related illnesses can quickly become life-threatening: According to U.S. researchers, from 2004 to 2018, more than 700 people nationwide died from heat-related causes. Climate change may increase unnecessary heat death in the coming years.
Here are some tips for understanding the health risks of extreme heat.
The Effects Of Excessive Heat On The Body
Humans easily tolerate heat due to their tropical origins. W. Larry Kenney, a professor, says that when the air gets hotter than skin temperature (97-99°F) and sweat doesn’t evaporate, our body core temperature rises.
Risks Vary Among Individuals
Heat affects everyone, but some people are more susceptible than others. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that infants and children are especially vulnerable because they lose fluid faster than adults and need caretakers to cool them down.
It Can Lead To Heatstroke
Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature reaches 104°F or higher and can lead to organ failure, brain damage, and death. Cognitive impairment is one of the dangers of heatstroke. It is most common in older adults and children, but even young adults can die from heatstroke. Kenney says, “people who work outdoors, military members, and athletes are most likely to be affected.”
Heat Can Trigger Mental Health Crises
Mental health can be profoundly affected by high temperatures. It may also increase mental-health emergency department visits. An analysis of 3.5 million emergency department visits in 2022 found that higher temperatures increased the risk of visits for mental health conditions such as substance abuse, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Heat Is Bad For Your Heart
The general population may suffer less damage from high temperatures than people with preexisting health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and COPD. Heart diseases are hazardous in high temperatures: they can strain the heart and increase the risk of heart attacks.