Hyperthermia (cont.)

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What causes a heat-related illness?

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People suffer heat-related illness when the body's normal temperature control system is unable to effectively regulate its internal temperature. Normally, at high temperatures the body primarily cools itself through the evaporation of sweat. However, under certain conditions (air temperatures above 95 F or 35 C and with high humidity), this cooling mechanism becomes less effective. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Furthermore, without adequate fluid intake, excessive fluid losses and electrolyte imbalances may also occur leading to dehydration. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures can damage the brain and other vital organs.

Picture of the layers of the skin including the sweat glands
Picture of the layers of the skin including the sweat glands

Other conditions that can limit the ability to regulate body temperature include old age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn, and drug or alcohol use.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/22/2013

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Heat-Related Illness - Causes Question: What are the triggers or causes of your heat-related illness? How do you avoid these triggers?
Heat-Related Illness - Prevention Question: If you are prone to heat-related illness, how do you prevent an occurrence?
Heat-Related Illness - Risk Question: Share your experience with heat-related illness risk.
Heat-Related Illness - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms associated with a heat-related illness?
Heat-Related Illness - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with heat-related illness.

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