The human body is an amazing machine with working organs and the ability to fight disease and heal. However, the human body does suffer under the effects of extreme temperature. Read about what happens to your body when it experiences such extreme hot and cold weather.
Effects of Extreme Heat on the Human Body
As soon as your body starts to experience severe heat this will be immediately sensed and your body will start deploying different methods to try and cool the body down.
The first thing that will happen is that your heart will start to beat faster and this is because your body is trying to increase the flow of blood around your body to try and keep your internal organs from overheating. If the body continues to experience extreme heat you will start perspiring as your body tries to cool you down.
The biggest problem with perspiring is that your body will slowly become dehydrated as a result of producing sweat. Since your body can lose up to 2 litres of water per hour when exposed to heat and can only ingest up to 1.5 litres of water an hour, dehydration becomes a major concern.
Once your body is unable to sweat due to dehydration your body temperature will start to rise again. This is when hyperthermia in extreme heat occurs. Hyperthermia in this instance is a condition where the body is unable to sweat anymore and therefore the core temperature of your body will continue to rise. This will cause your body (and mind) to act in a number of ways. Initially you will come confused and have a headache. Many people who have seen someone with hyperthermia say that they look and act drunk.
At this point it is likely that your blood pressure will start to fall due to the dehydration and you will feel dizzy and may faint. The heart will start to beat more as it tries to ensure your whole body receives enough oxygen.
Another physical effect that will be witnessed is that your skin will start to become red and this is because the blood vessels are dilating as they try to increase heat dissipation. The drop in blood pressure will also result in your complexion becoming pale.
If heat stroke is experienced as a result of being exposed to extreme heat then you are likely to be physically sick.
The effect of extreme heat on the body is very serious and needs to be treated by medical professionals as without intervention extreme heat will slowly target and shut down the body’s vital organs.
Effects of Extreme Cold on the Human Body
Experiencing extreme cold is just as dangerous and fatal as being effected by extreme heat and being exposed to extremely cold weather is known to kill faster than drowning. In the case of experiencing extreme cold the main effects on your body arise from frostbite and hypothermia.
Frostbite is a condition which will affect your body’s extremities such as your hands, feet, ears and nose. When your body is exposed to extremely cold weather these extremities can start to experience a sense of numbness and turn blue as they become frostbitten. Medical attention is needed when this occurs as in some severe cases of frostbite amputation will be required.
Hypothermia when exposed to the cold means that your body is losing heat faster than it is able to produce it. The severity of hypothermia can be mild when the body temperature drops below 37C and severe when it drops below 33C.
In extreme conditions when severe hypothermia is reached your body will be effected in a number of ways. Initially, your body will accelerate your breathing and heart rate and you will start to shiver as your body attempts to keep you warm. At this point your skin will become cold and pale and your speech will become slurred. As your body’s temperature continues to fall you will no longer start to feel any chills and this is because the muscles in your body are becoming rigid making the skin turn pale. At this point it is often reported that you will experience eyesight problems especially blurred vision.
You will start to feel drowsy and then lose consciousness. This is extremely dangerous and the point where medical intervention is urgently required. This is because the longer you are exposed to these extremely cold weather conditions the more dehydrated your body will become and the more prone the body will become to organ failure.
Remember, if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position where you have been exposed to heat or cold however severe, the human survival insight will kick-in and your body will try to adapt to the situation you find yourself in. Your ‘fight or flight’ response will be triggered and this will provide you with an extra burst of energy and survival strength. Take precautions whenever you are going anywhere to make sure you don’t expose yourself to such risk but if you do, seek medical attention immediately to ensure your health and wellbeing.
- License: Creative Commons image source
- License: Creative Commons image source
With a background in temperature control equipment and thermometer technology, Gordon Woods writes blog posts on engineering issues and is a keen writer on mountain climbing and outdoor pursuits.