How do extreme temperatures affect the human body?

Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause severe health consequences, including death. These climatic environments usually appear in temperate countries, especially during the winter and summer months.

The ideal body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius. Above 41 speaking of hyperthermia and below 35 of hypothermia. Extreme temperatures can cause both states to be reached quickly.

Are you interested in knowing a little more about the subject? We have prepared the following article to resolve the main doubts in this regard. Keep reading!

How can the body tolerate changes in temperature?

The human being has many biological mechanisms of thermoregulation. These are complemented by our conscious ability to create objects and clothing designed to prevent heat loss or gain, as the case may be.

Thanks to the activity of many organs and systems (such as cardiovascular and neurological) the body has the ability to cope with adverse weather conditions.

For example, in hot climates there is an evaporative loss of heat, in which the blood vessels located on the surface of the body dilate to lose fluid in the form of sweat. The opposite occurs when it is very cold, since the distribution of blood flow is directed towards the vital organs.

How does the body react to extreme heat?

Extreme heat is an adverse climatic condition in which temperatures are reached that, maintained in a sustained manner, can cause severe consequences on health. This temperature varies depending on each region. The adaptation mechanisms depend on the environment in which a person usually develops.

When it is maintained around 10 degrees above the average upper limit for a certain area, it speaks of extreme heat. Of course, these conditions must be stable for a few weeks.

Symptoms and reactions

Some of the most important clinical manifestations during a heat wave are the following:

  • Muscle, abdominal and headache pain.
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tiredness and fainting
  • Sickness.
  • Incrise of cardiac frecuency.

Many of these symptoms are the natural consequence of dehydration. In case of presenting them, it is advisable to go to an emergency service as soon as possible.

Discover more: 7 ways to drink more water

How can it be regulated and prevented?

Given the possibility of a heat wave, it is advisable to follow several recommendations to avoid any type of damage to health. The most basic are equipping the home with air conditioning and fans, which may require an early financial investment.

It is also advisable to buy or manufacture deflectors, in case you have many windows in the home. Some can be created using cardboard with aluminum.

Consuming plenty of water and wearing loose clothing are basic aspects that should be kept both inside and outside the home. In case of having to leave, public places with availability of air conditioning or immediate medical assistance should be located in case of presenting any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Risk groups

Both the elderly and children are more prone to medical complications derived from extreme temperatures. Those patients with chronic diseases, especially those that affect the cardiovascular and renal systems, should take greater precautions.

How does the body react to extreme cold?

The definition of extreme cold is the opposite of extreme heat. It usually happens in temperate climates and in the context of some winter storms.

Symptoms and reactions

The main clinical manifestations of dangerous exposure to extreme cold are as follows:

  • Chills and muscle cramps.
  • Tingle.
  • Decreased state of consciousness.
  • Change of color in the extremities.

All these symptoms, especially the last two, involve the need for evaluation in the nearest emergency department.

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How can it be regulated and prevented?

Like what happens with heat waves, in most cases their negative effects on health can be prevented. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Go out as little as possible of home.
  • Have the necessary tools to remove snow from the surroundings.
  • Wear several layers of clothing, including protection of the hands, feet, ears, neck and head.
  • Get a heating system well in advance.
  • Establish an emergency plan to go to a health center if required.
  • Store enough canned food for power outages.

Risk groups

Extreme ages and patients with chronic diseases are also more susceptible to suffer the effects of a cold wave. People with reduced mobility should avoid leaving home all the more reason, due to the possible obstacles caused by falling snow.

It never hurts to pay attention to extreme temperatures

Every year, exposure to these extreme temperatures claims thousands of lives, even more than natural disasters. Most developed countries with temperate climates have government strategies aimed at reducing deaths from this cause.

In Spain, some of them can be found on the official website of the Ministry of Health. If in doubt, it is advisable to consult a trusted doctor.