Texas summers are known to be hot, but when coupled with high humidity, the weather here can be brutal. While hot, humid weather can make anyone uncomfortable, it can also be deadly. Read on to learn how humidity affects the body’s ability to cool down on summer days, as well as warning signs to watch out for.
Why Humidity Matters
One reason humidity makes hot weather more unbearable is that the higher the relative humidity, the higher the temperature feels. For example, an outside temperature of 95° feels like 95° when the relative humidity is 30%. When the humidity is increased to 65%, that same 95° feels like a whopping 117°! A heat index chart factors relative humidity into temperature to provide a more accurate assessment of what the temperature feels like.
When outside temperatures approach the temperature of the human body (about 98°), the body undergoes a series of changes to help keep it cool, even if you are not exercising. The body cools itself by opening pores on the skin and releasing water and salts (sweat). As the water evaporates, it transfers the body’s heat to the air. But humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, so the body’s heat stays put.
The concentration of water in the air, relative to the temperature (relative humidity), determines the rate at which the water can evaporate from the skin. When the air is holding more moisture (relative to the total moisture it could hold at that temperature), it is harder for the air to absorb the sweat from our skin. The result? We sweat and sweat, but instead of feeling any relief, we simply feel hot and sticky.
High Humidity Can Be Dangerous
The problem with high humidity making us feel hotter is not just that we are more uncomfortable, but that our core temperature is actually rising, and our bodies compensate by working harder and harder to cool us down. When sweating doesn’t work to cool us down and we continue to heat up, heat exhaustion results, which causes loss of the water, salt, and chemicals that the body needs.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Pale, clammy skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness, fainting
- Nausea, vomiting
- Muscle and abdominal cramps
- Mild temperature elevations
Key ways to avoid overheating are first, to be aware of not only the temperature, but the heat index; to drink plenty of water; and to take it easy, slow down, and cool off when noticing any sign of fatigue, headache, or increased pulse.
“You have to stay hydrated,” says Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director of Five Star ER in Round Rock, TX. “Cover up your skin with loose-fitting clothing as much as possible, stay out of the direct heat as much as possible, obviously sun screen and hats and visors are helpful to protect your skin, and just drink lots of fluids.”
Texas summers wouldn’t be the same without venturing into the great outdoors. But if things end up a little less than fun, we’re here to help. We’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us! Click to find the Five Star ER location nearest you: http://fivestarer.com/locations
– – – – – – – – – –
About Five Star ER
Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.
Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.
This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.
Today we are talking about heat and dehydration
Posted by Five Star ER on Wednesday, August 3, 2016