UK heatwave: What happens to your body when it gets too hot?

·Yahoo Life UK contributor
·4-min read
The UK's current heatwave is affecting us all [Photo: Getty]
The UK's current heatwave is affecting us all [Photo: Getty]

Most people in the UK will welcome a heatwave with open arms. Al fresco dining, lazy days in the park, beach fun - what’s not to love?

But the hot weather also brings with it some health risks, mainly because our bodies aren’t necessarily that great at coping with a swing in temperature.

“Although many of us look forward to warmer weather, it’s extremely important to prepare for it, as it can cause some serious health issues,” explains Dr Diana Gall from Doctor4U.

Here’s what happens to our bodies when the mercury rises.

You get dehydrated

“One of the most common illnesses associated with hot weather is dehydration, which happens when the body loses more fluids than it gets,” explains Dr Diana Gall from Doctor4U.

READ MORE: UK heatwave leads to surge in sales of air coolers

“This can be incredibly dangerous, especially considering that the body needs a certain amount of water to function properly, and without enough of it, you might experience a dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and dark or strong-smelling urine.

Dr Gall says you might also notice that you aren’t urinating as often.

“Luckily, dehydration can be solved with increasing your fluids and making sure you drink enough to stay hydrated.”

She says a good way of measuring how much water is enough is to check the colour of your urine.

“If it’s clear or light in colour, you’re likely getting enough fluids,” she adds.

Dehydration can also lead to dry skin but upping your fluids and slapping on the moisturiser can help to avoid this.

READ MORE: 9 heatwave mistakes we're all making

You sweat more

And by more, we mean buckets.

“When your body gets too hot, the blood flow temperature activates a certain area in the brain which causes you to sweat more, and your heart rate can increase,” Dr Gall explains.

“This is the body's way of adapting to the heat. As you sweat, you're also losing fluids, so may become dehydrated far sooner than on a cooler day. This usually causes dry mouth and increased thirst, so if you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure you keep yourself cool and hydrated.”

Feeling hot, hot, hot! [Photo: Getty]
Feeling hot, hot, hot! [Photo: Getty]

You overheat

Signs you are overheating include tingling skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea and an increased heart rate all of which can indicate you’re on the way to suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

“Heatstroke happens when your body isn’t able to keep itself cool – something that can happen when you overheat,” explains Dr Gall.

“It’s important to treat this condition immediately for the best chance of a quick recovery, and signs to look out for include muscle cramps, sweating (or a complete lack of sweating despite the heat), skin that’s cool to touch, headache, nausea and vomiting, and a fast heartbeat.

READ MORE: Labour wants to regulate workplace temperatures

“In these cases, it’s important to cool the body down even if the skin feels cold. This can be done with a cool bath or shower, as well as rehydrating with plenty of water taken in sips.”

Mental abilities and concentration can also decrease in the heat as the body and brain become dehydrated and exhausted.

Click below for the best fans under £20 to see you through the UK heatwave:

You might get sunburnt

Pink skin is the external sign your body has had too much sun.

“Many people seek a summer glow by lying in the sun for hours to achieve a bronzed look, but it’s important to know that this is also skin damage, and can not only be painful now, but it could cause more problems later in life,” Dr Gall explains.

Sunburn often goes hand in hand along with dehydration, but is easily preventable.

“To avoid burning your skin whilst enjoying the sun, you should choose a broad-spectrum sun-cream and apply it often,” Dr Gall advises.

READ MORE: From flip-flops to shorts, what is appropriate summer workwear attire?

Avoid the risks

“To avoid becoming ill due to the heat this summer, you can help yourself by staying indoors during the hottest hours (usually between 11am-3pm), wearing loose-fitting clothing to help air to circulate, drinking plenty of water, and making sure you use a broad-spectrum sun cream with a mid to high SPF rating,” Dr Gall advises.

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