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In case you hadn’t noticed, the UK is currently in the grips of a heatwave. *All the hot weather emojis* And while temperatures here gi...

Heatwave health: What really happens to your body when it gets too hot

In case you hadn’t noticed, the UK is currently in the grips of a heatwave. *All the hot weather emojis*

And while temperatures here give the Love Island villa a run for its money in the sizzling stakes, most of us couldn’t be happier.

Al fresco drinks on balmy summer evenings, lunch time bites in a sun soaked park. What’s not to love?

But there is a darker side to the sun getting its heatwave hat on that involves our hot-weather health.

Though our bodies are really good at letting out all the heat it produces (though it doesn’t always feel like it. Hello sweat patches!), if we get too hot our body and brain could start to have some pretty strange reactions, which might eventually lead to overheating.

When your body overheats, the most severe illness that can develop is a heatstroke, but overexposure to high temperatures can also lead to heat exhaustion, heat rash, and heat syncope (fainting).

Here’s what goes down when your body gets too hot, and what you can do about it…

Tingling skin
We all know the dangers of sun damage in terms of the potential skin cancer risk, but did you realise too much sun can cause permanent damage to skin cells and tingling skin is a sign of skin damage.

“Intense, prolonged sun exposure can cause sunburn, which is painful, causes inflammation in the skin and also actually causes cell death too,” explains Dr Nicole Chiang, consultant dermatologist at BMI The Beaumont and BMI The Highfield hospitals in Lancashire.

Dr Chiang recommends drinking plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. “You need at least 8 glasses of water a day especially when the weather is hot or if you are sweating,” she says.

“Protect your skin by staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm as the UV radiation is most intense during this time,” she continues.

She also advises covering up with loose, light-coloured clothing and applying a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you against UVA and UVB radiation.

“SPF refers to only UVB protection, as UVA can also cause skin cancer, you need to look for protection against UVA cover in a sunscreen. Aim for a sunscreen with above SPF30 and UVA coverage when the sun is intense.

If your skin is feeling hot and tingly, it’s advisable to cool it down. “Apply a cool, wet cloth or towel, or take a cool shower or bath. This can help to reduce inflammation in the skin. Then soothe your skin by applying aloe vera gel on your skin regularly. It is a natural soothing remedy for the skin, especially if you have a sunburn,” Dr Chiang adds.

What’s that about? It may be strange to find you actually feel chills when you get too hot, this is actually the body’s way of protecting itself by regulating its temperature.

The main reason for this is sweat. As the perspiration accumulates on the skin, it naturally evaporates. As the sweat evaporates, it cools down the skin surface. As this process occurs, a dramatic temperature difference occurs and the body responds to the “chill” of the evaporation of the sweat and the goosebump response kicks in.

Goosebumps are actually an early sign of heat stroke so if your skin starts to pimple it could be time to head for the shade.

A Headache
Ever wondered why you often get a headache if you’ve been out in the sun all day? Well, headaches are actually a sign of both heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Sun-induced headaches can range from dull to throbbing, and if your head starts to pound it should be a red flag that your body needs to cool down, like now.

Dark urine
One of the more unusual side effects of a too-hot body is kidney stones. “In hot weather, we sweat more and our urine becomes more concentrated,” explains Mr Neil Haldar, consultant urologist at BMI Chiltern and BMI Shelburne hospitals in Buckinghamshire

“In this concentrated urine, minerals can crystallise out to form painful kidney stones.”

Mr Haldar recommends upping your H20 intake. “It is vital to drink more water, in order to dilute the urine and keep the minerals dissolved preventing them forming stones.”

“A good guide to whether you are drinking enough is to check the colour of your urine. If it is dark yellow you need to drink more until it is a much lighter yellow.”

While it’s tempting to take your workout al fresco, there are some flash signs you need to watch out for when exercising in the heat.

“It takes about 10 to 14 days to acclimatise to exercising in higher temperatures and so you need to build up,” advises Mr Mark Farndon, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at BMI The Duchy Hospital in Harrogate

“Heat cramps can be caused by not replacing salt and fluids during intense, prolonged exercise in the heat,” he explains.

According to Mr Farndon prevention is better than cure, “so hydrate by drinking water in advance, stretch carefully and speed up slowly.”

He also recommends lightweight breathable clothing for better body temperature control, proper socks help avoid blisters, and running hats to shield the sun and allow heat to regulate.

“If you do feel the effects of heat exposure, stop the exercise activity, gently stretch your affected muscles and drink come cool water or a low-sugar electrolyte solution,” he adds.

Your fertility
Who knew that a heatwave could have a knock-on effect on fertility? “We know from occupational health studies that if a man’s testicles are too warm for too long, this can affect sperm counts and sperm quality, adversely affecting fertility,” says Mr Rick Viney, consultant urologist at BMI Priory and BMI Edgbaston hospitals in Birmingham

Trying to conceive during the heat wave? Maximise your chances by keeping yourself and therefore your testicles cool. “Staying out of the sun and keeping to cool rooms will help as well as cool showers or baths. Hydration will also help semen consistency so take plenty of fluids,” Mr Viney adds.

A change in heart rate
When your body overheats, it can impact your heart in two different ways. Your heart rate may slow down and weaken or it may do the opposite and speed up rapidly. Both are signs that your body is overheating.

“Heat directly affects the heart and vascular system,” Dr Robin Northcote, consultant cardiologist at BMI Ross Hall, BMI King’s Park and BMI Carrick Glen hospitals in Scotland

“This is true of steam rooms, saunas or with the weather. Heart rate increases, vessels dilate. This is not likely to cause an issue with healthy people, but if not well hydrated, anyone can develop low blood pressure as a result.”

“It is important for those with cardiac complaints to keep cool, and for all of us to maintain adequate hydration,” he continues. “Listen to your body. If you feel unwell or totally exhausted…..siesta!….your body is telling you something’s not right for a reason!”

We often dismiss hot-weather dizziness as a harmless side effect of too much time in the sun (or too many glasses of Pimms), but if you do feel light-headed, don’t ignore it. Dizziness is a sign of heat exhaustion, which, if left untreated, can progress to a heat stroke.

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