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What happens to our bodies during a heatwave?

What happens to our bodies during a heatwave?

Weeww! It’s a bit warm isn’t it! 

As temperatures reach sky heights and rocket lollies empty the shelves, the UK witnesses 2022’s first blistering heat wave. Hello summer.

But for some of us who are saying the classic sentence ‘it’s too hot’ on repeat 60 times a day, it might be time to look at the various different ways we can cool the heck down to mitigate the effects of overheating.

UK beach during heatwave

What does excessive heat do to our bodies?

If you’re wholly accustomed to UK weather and the heatwave has pounced on you from literally nowhere - then it’s totally normal for your body to react to the quick change in temperature!

Higher temperature causes the blood vessels to widen, which means the blood is travelling through them at a much lower rate. This means the rate of blood flow actually decreases, and the heart has to put much more effort into pumping it around. Your body also goes through a process of ‘vasodilation’ where your blood runs closer to the skin’s surface, releasing heat much quicker. The whole process of your body trying to constantly cool itself down uses up energy quicker than it normally would.Your core body temperature should be around 37°. But if it reaches anything over 40°, and severe dehydration is in play, then the body could be at risk of heat stroke or heart attack as the heart rate drops considerably. And nobody wants that. 

Muscle cramping 

Muscle cramping is a classic symptom of heatstroke, and it happens when not enough electrolytes are travelling to the muscles, meaning they can cramp up, and even spasm. This happens when electrolytes are lost through sweat - and it's as uncomfortable as it sounds. 

So how can we mitigate the risks of overheating during these suuuuper hot temperatures?

man pours water on his head during UK heatwave


Heatstroke prevention

Here’s a couple of tips and tricks for helping keep your body cool during these sweltering times. 

  1. Loose clothing
    Wear light and loose clothing. Dark colours absorb the heat, and will make you feel like you’re wearing a fabric radiator. Opt for floaty, light coloured clothes. 

  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
    Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Then hydrate some more. Consuming energy drinks that contain electrolytes is a good idea too, as you lose these in abundance when you sweat!

  3. High water content fruits and vegetables
    Stock up on snacks that contain higher water content like cucumbers and celery! Your body will thank you for it! 

  4. Avoid the sun and stay in cool, well ventilated areas
    I mean, you’ll probably do this anyway because being in the sun without any shade all day is just…not comfortable. Ventilation is important too - but make sure you're not just sitting in front of a fan that is just blowing more hot air on you. Instead, opt for rooms that have proper air con - or keep the curtains shut to keep it cool and shady.

  5. Get enough sleep
    Heat makes us feel extra tired, so getting enough sleep will help reduce the feelings of tiredness during the day. If you're feeling really exhausted, listen to your body and take a midday nap during the peak of the heat.


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