Why extreme heat can kill us: here are the symptoms to watch out for

Debility, nausea, thirst, heavy sweating and more: when to be alarmed and call a doctor. Extreme heat can kill us: the symptoms.

One of the reasons that should convince us to multiply our efforts, in an attempt to stop climate change, are heat-related deaths. Hundreds of them are happening and they mainly affect the weakest strata of society, such as the elderly. Between June 25 and 30, for example, in Multnomah County, Oregon, in the United States, an unprecedented wave of high temperatures caused four times the normal number of deaths. Something similar happened in Canada: the CBC, the state's public broadcaster, spoke of "hundreds of sudden deaths."

What are the symptoms of heat stroke

These are the effects of heat stroke, which can make people sick and even kill them. It occurs when the body is unable to cool itself through sweat: we also explained this in an article on why humidity bothers more than heat. When the air is saturated with water, and cannot absorb any more H2O, sweat remains on the skin, not being able to actually fulfill that fundamental function of cooling the body that is accomplished through evaporation.

There's more: as experts point out, sweating dehydrates us, reducing blood volume and compromising blood flow to the brain, intestines, heart, kidneys and more. In addition, thicker blood increases the likelihood of clotting.

Symptoms to watch out for, especially if you are among those at risk, are muscle cramps, along with weakness, nausea, thirst and heavy sweating. Some later stages involve cold, clammy skin and a heartbeat, measurable by pulse, that is fast and weak. The last stage, which requires immediate medical intervention, manifests itself through confusion, lack of sweating and loss of consciousness.

How to protect yourself from the heat

Unfortunately, the ways to protect ourselves from the unwanted effects of heat are very simple and consist of staying hydrated, avoiding the sun and physical activity, using a fan (which blows air over the body, restoring ideal conditions). Soaking your hands in cold water can also be a good idea. Another tip is to wear suitable clothes, that is fresh that facilitate perspiration: waiting for the commercialization of a t-shirt that works as air conditioning, just invented in China, is also good something light and white.

Giuseppe Giordano