When you get too cold you head indoors, turn on the heater & layer up until you’re comfortable.
When you get too hot you can just strip naked & jump in a public fountain – even if you feel like you’ll die otherwise.
What you can do is simple little things to keep your mind off the heat or cool yourself down from the inside out.
The first thing to consider when figuring how to cool off, what kind of heat are you trying to manage. Dry heat? Humidity? Direct sunlight? Stuffy rooms? Internal?
We’ll start inside, way inside.
Most warm blooded species naturally produce heat internally by converting food into energy as a means of self regulation. For the most part, we’re able to maintain a constant internal temperature, but occasionally we cannot. When extrenal forces drive up our internal temperature, we sweat. When internal forces drive up our temperature, we get a fever. When our bodies cannot cool down fast enough, we may act quickly to avoid heat stress / exhaustion / stroke. Keeping hydrated & avoiding direct sunlight are universal pieces of advice to avoid overheating.
However when conditions get more specific, your means of cooling down will as well.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of hot: dry hot, in which humidity levels are at or below 40 percent, and humid hot, which includes everything else. Depending on the moisture level in the air, your body will respond differently to the heat. You need to account for this change (source)
In this kind of heat, it is essential to keep hydrated: “Dry air is readily available to “accept” water, which means saliva and respiratory humidity, in addition to sweat, will evaporate quickly — especially if you are breathing hard.”
In this kind of heat, it is essential to wick away moisture: “When the air is nearly saturated with moisture, sweat does not evaporate as quickly. This evaporation is a major method by which the body cools itself; thus, high humidity levels hinder the body’s ability to cool off.”
Summertime is when the majority of us are outside the majority of the time. We know to wear sunscreen. We’ve all heard about the connection to sun exposure & risk for skin cancer, but did you know “Summer heat isn’t a good indicator here because UV radiation might also be present when it’s cold outside. This is because heat from the sun doesn’t come from UV light, but from infrared light in the sun’s rays” (source). This means the sun could be cooking you on cooler days. You can even get sunburn when it’s cloudy or “hazy” out, so it’s always important to check your local UV index.
“Indoor air quality (also called “indoor environmental quality”) describes how inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort, and ability to work. It can include temperature, humidity, lack of outside air (poor ventilation), mold from water damage, or exposure to other chemicals” (source). Low air quality equates to low quality breathing & can overall lower your quality of life. Our lungs are comprised of the most delicate tissue in our bodies & it is easily damaged. Inhaled pollution can cause such damage. Humidity also poses a problem for those with existing breathing complications, such as asthma or COPD.
If you or someone you’re caring for has a fever, follow these steps to break the fever:
- Take your temperature and assess your symptoms. If your temperature runs 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, you have a fever.
- Stay in bed and rest.
- Keep hydrated. Drinking water, iced tea, or very diluted juice to replenish fluids lost through sweating. But if keeping liquids down is difficult, suck on ice chips.
- Take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to reduce fever. Note the proper dosage, and don’t them use alongside other fever-reducing medications. You shouldn’t give aspirin to your baby or child without consulting your doctor. Infants under 6 months of age shouldn’t be given ibuprofen.
- Stay cool. Remove extra layers of clothing and blankets, unless you have the chills.
- Take tepid baths or using cold compresses to make you more comfortable. Cold baths, ice cube baths, or alcohol baths or rubs can be dangerous and should be avoided.
- But no matter what the number on the thermometer reads, if you have any concerns consult your doctor.
Running a fever is the body’s response to fighting infections caused by viruses or bacteria. Fevers can also result from sunburn or from getting immunizations. Anyone can get a fever, regardless of age. People who have compromised immune systems may tend to have fevers more often than others do.
It’s important to keep cool in the summer, so we don’t ruin the fun for ourselves (or others) by passing out – or worse. Know your body & talk to your doctors about any concerns you may have.