The effects on extreme heat on the body - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

The effects on extreme heat on the body

A doctor explains the effects of extreme heat on the body. (Source: WMBF News) A doctor explains the effects of extreme heat on the body. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – For those who have ever wondered why they feel the way they do when it's this hot, it's because an individual's body is speaking to them.

It's the reason why people are sweating after just minutes, or end up fainting.

“As we get hotter our body will try and cool itself off, which is why we start to sweat profusely and feel hot," said Dr. Jon Pangia. "And that feeling is trying to give yourself a signal to try to move yourself somewhere in the shade.”

Pangia, the emergency medical director for the Grand Strand Medical Center, said whether people realize it or not, their body uses a ton of energy just to sweat.

“Part of that is the body telling you, 'Don't move. Moving creates heat. It's hot out; we're trying not to get hotter. We're trying to keep you at 98.7 degrees or within a degree of that. So let's try not to move too much. Let's try to stay in the shade,'" he said. "And you start to get thirsty as well.”

He added that as the body works to maintain the same temperature, the blood vessels are losing fluid.

“Your body's vessels are all dilated trying to get as much heat out of you as possible, and that can start to create more space, and make your blood pressure feel a little lower, because there is less fluid, and less volume in those vessels so you start to feel light headed," Pangia said. "So it's not just about drinking enough fluid that you would on a normal day. It's now you need even more fluid than you started with because your vessels are so dilated.” 

Pangia said every movement a person makes is considered a shift. When an individual stands up, walks or runs in the heat, more energy is needed.

That is energy the body doesn’t always have, so the body responds yet again.

“Fainting is the body's mechanism to go down, have gravity reset all the flow, so there is more blood going to your brain," Pangia said. "The brain is one of the greediest organs in the body and requires most of the blood so it will put you down flat. So if you're starting to feel faint, sit down or lay down because you just want to feed your brain more fluid and then hydrate so you can move around everywhere else.”   

To stay out of the hospital during these hot summer weeks, people should dress lightly, drink lots of water and spend as little time outside as possible.

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