Heat and dizziness

It occurred to me that of course hot weather is gonna fuck someone up – look what happens when we have a fever.  And the weakness/dizziness/need to lie down that I get after being outside on a hot day does feel pretty much like having a fever.

But, I Googled what normal human body temperature is supposed to be, and it’s 37 degrees.  The weather last night was only 34 at its highest.  So, not fever levels.  Also, the other people in last night’s art class had also just come in from outside and they weren’t flopped on the floor like noodles.  And human beings do live in climates hotter than 37 degrees and manage to get things done.  I’ve hung out with people on hot days before and saw that they didn’t get affected by the heat anywhere near the way I do.

So I Googled “why does hot weather make me tired?” and the first few results that came up said it’s dehydration.  FUCK YOU, Google.  That is not what is happening here.  I’ve been really vigilant about drinking enough water lately, and I had a lot of salt yesterday right before I left the house (salt depletion being the other thing Google kept mentioning).  And the art school is a ten minute walk from where I live.

I’ll say one thing, though: I don’t seem to sweat as much as other people.  My skin (aside from my armpits, which rapidly grow disgustingly damp and pungent) remains almost entirely dry to the touch on a hot day or when I’m exercising.  Instead, my face just gets redder and redder.  When I used to belong to a gym, other random gym-goers stopped me on more than one occasion to ask if I was okay because my extremely flushed face concerned them.  One day two years ago I ran some errands during a heat wave and when I came home, some guys who were doing yard work outside my building were like “Holy shit, you really got sunburned!!!” but no, after I’d flopped bonelessly down in front of a fan for two hours the lobster-red colour of my face went away.  It wasn’t a sunburn.  I was just way too hot.

Maybe that’s all it is – that everyone else’s body has a better cooling system than mine.  Perhaps I should carry around a spray bottle full of water and spritz myself periodically so I can experience this groovy “evaporation” thing all the kids are talking about.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Heat and dizziness

  1. Irene

    Hypohidrosis (abnormally low sweating) and anhidrosis (not being able to sweat at all) aren’t all that uncommon medical conditions. My grandmother used to take an aspirin every hot day in order to make herself perspire more. I am not sure how or why this works, and it might not work for everyone — plus of course many folks can’t tolerate aspirin every day for various reasons. But it seems like an easy thing to try now and again if you normally tolerate aspirin well.

  2. Fnord

    Environmental temperatures don’t need to be above normal body temperature to cause you to overheat. It just needs to be hot enough to prevent you from losing heat fast enough, and your own bodily processes will overheat you (especially if you’re active). 34 C is certainly hot enough to screw you up, especially if you sweat less.

    It definitely sounds like that’s what’s happening here, overheating. Reddening skin, fatigue, and dizziness are basically textbook symptoms. Also, it’s not just while you’re actually outside. Likely, part of the reason heat knocks you out for so long is because you’re not shedding heat as efficiently as other people even when you’re back in a cool area.

    As you suppose, finding alternate methods of reducing your temperature are what you need. The spray bottle is a good idea. Once you’re home, even more drastic measures like cool showers can also help. Supposedly, medications that reduce normal fevers (like the aforementioned aspirin) are also helpful, though I’ve never tried them.

    • Irene

      I think it’s aspirin specifically that’s supposed to have the side effect of increased sweating. (See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/901317 — this is a pretty old study, so it’s possible this is an exploded theory for all I know. And of course I don’t know how it might interact with other meds one might be taking, etc., so usual precautions one would exercise with any over-the-counter med.) I wouldn’t expect something like acetaminophen to have the same effect, because it’s not about the fever-combating properties as far as I know.

    • Environmental temperatures don’t need to be above normal body temperature to cause you to overheat. It just needs to be hot enough to prevent you from losing heat fast enough

      Ohhhh. Like a laptop left on a couch cushion. The heat can’t go anywhere so things get fucked up. Makes sense!

      Hmmm. Fever reduction medicine. That’s an interesting idea, although I don’t understand how they would work in hot weather. I mean even if a pill convinced my internal thermostat to set itself at a different level, I’m still out in hot weather, y’know?

      But I’m not a scientist or doctor. Obviously. I really have no clue about this shit.

      • fnord

        It may well be that Irene is correct that only aspirin with its increased sweating, not other antifever drugs, is effective, and I was misremembering.

  3. boorf

    Heat really does me in. I don’t know what it is, but it does seem to impact me more than other people, on a physical level (fatigued and uncomfortable and I DO sweat more than average but it takes me a long time to cool down – doubly weird because my regular body temperature is slightly low – or maybe that isn’t weird, I don’t really know) and an emotional level (all my shit is heightened in the summer – sadness is way sadder, anger and irritation are just amped up to ridiculous levels).

    I knew a girl growing up who was unable to sweat and became overheated at the drop of a hat. In gym, she was only allowed to do 10-15 minutes of activity or it could get dangerous (we lived in Texas so in the hot times she had to be really super careful).

    You should totally get the spray bottle! They sell the ones with batteries and a little fan attached to the spray nozzle, you know, we used to use those at swim meets. They’re awesome.

  4. J, onesubsmission

    Yes, people live in places that are much hotter, but they are acclimatised to the temperature, not just physically, but also behaviourally, and often with a built environment that is better adapted to cope with the heat if it’s a regular feature. Also if you live in a city, googling the temperature won’t necessarily give you an accurate temp because of the urban heat island effect – it can be much hotter in built up parts of the city than a nearby weather station would record.

    I think people naturally range in their tolerance to heat, too, for a range of reasons including physical makeup and personal comfort thresholds.

  5. kaija24

    I do not handle heat well…never have. However, I’m happy as a pig in mud when it’s -20C and I’m outside in the snow. I was crabby and feeling ill the last two hot/humid days as well and stayed inside as much as possible. Some people just don’t dissipate heat well and I am one of them 🙂 I blame my Finnish ancestors. Don’t worry too much about it…and rejoice that it’s going to be much cooler tomorrow!

  6. Pingback: Awesome but scary… | hiding in plain sight

  7. Remember temperatures quoted are SHADE ones….in daytime sunshine, expect 35C shade to be apart 45+ C in the sun !

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