Heat intolerance: what are the symptoms, causes and treatment?

Heat intolerance is a condition in which the body cannot properly regulate its internal temperature. This can lead to a higher risk of developing heatstroke, which can be life-threatening. Certain conditions are known to lower your heat tolerance and make you more susceptible to overheating, so people with these conditions should be extra careful in the summer or in hot environments.

We spoke to heat intolerance medical experts to get their perspective on the causes, symptoms and possible treatments, as well as their top tips for those with underlying conditions that could put them at risk. a higher risk. If you’re worried about getting hot and being bothered, we’ve also compiled a list of ways to stay cool in the heat.

What is heat intolerance?

“Heat intolerance (HI) is a disorder of thermoregulation,” explains Dr. Deborah Lee, MD, of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy (opens in a new tab). It is a serious condition that increases the risk of heat stroke. The body cannot function when it is too hot. Overheating causes cells to die, blood becomes hypercoagulable and more likely to clot, and the intestine begins to leak toxins into the bloodstream. Organs begin to fail and irreversible brain damage can occur.

Dr Deborah Lee doctor

Having worked for many years in the NHS, first as a general practitioner and then as a senior clinician for an integrated community sexual health service, Dr Deborah Lee now works as a medical and health writer, focusing on women’s health. She is a specialist in menopause.

A review in Pediatrics in Review (opens in a new tab) warns that there is a difference between fever and heatstroke, as the body still has control over thermoregulation even when there is a fever, but with heatstroke it loses that control. The review also indicates that if a child’s core temperature exceeds 105.8 F (41 C) for more than a short time, they are at risk of thermal injury.

Dr. Tariq Mahmood, MD, Medical Director of Conceptual diagnoses (opens in a new tab), further explains: “People with heat intolerance experience an unusual level of heat sensitivity. It is not a disease in itself, but there are a number of conditions that can cause a person to suffer from it and it can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

“A person with heat intolerance may experience physical symptoms such as increased sweating or psychological symptoms such as feelings of anxiety. It is important to listen to your body in direct heat, as heat-related illnesses heat are predominant during the summer and can be fatal in acute cases.

Dr. Tariq Mahmood

Dr. Tariq Mahmood has nearly 30 years of experience in ultrasound, pediatrics, general medicine/surgery, radiology, orthopedics and obstetrics. He received his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Nishtar Medical College Multan in Pakistan in 1988 and spent seven years as a trainee radiologist after graduation before embarking on a career as a sonographer, sonographer and sonographer in the UK.

Dehydration is another risk when someone gets too hot, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine (opens in a new tab). If you take diuretics, you should be careful not to become dehydrated, as this can cause more frequent urination, ridding your body of salt and water. Extreme dehydration may need to be treated with intravenous (IV) fluids, so it’s important to see a doctor if you think you may be severely dehydrated.

What causes heat intolerance?

Lee says a few conditions can cause heat intolerance. “In some people, IH may be due to genetic alterations, which means the person has a lower tolerance for exercise in moderate heat,” she says. “Other cases of IH may be linked to dysautonomia, which occurs in association with a range of diseases that affect the nervous system. These include:

Lee says heat intolerance is also more common in people with sympathetic nervous system dysfunction. The conditions include:

woman suffering from heatstroke

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mahmoud says that Diabetes in particular can lead to dangerous levels of heat intolerance. “People with diabetes are at a higher risk of suffering from heat exhaustion and may also be more prone to heat intolerance,” he says. “Complications of diabetes can include damage to blood vessels and nerves, subsequently affecting sweat glands, preventing the body from cooling itself as effectively as it usually would.

“Unfortunately, in cases like these, heat intolerance is not treatable or preventable, but people are able to protect themselves and take proactive steps to avoid finding themselves in particularly hot situations. “

What are the symptoms of heat intolerance?

Mahmood says the individual experience of heat intolerance can vary, but some symptoms are more common than others. “Symptoms of heat intolerance vary from person to person, but may include feeling uncomfortable hot in moderate temperatures, fatigue, exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, mood or even insufficient sweating because of the heat,” he says. “People with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis may experience worsened symptoms when exposed to high temperatures, and people with endocrine system issues, such as a thyroid condition, may fight the heat because the body does not is unable to regulate itself.”

According to Lee, the most common symptoms of heat intolerance include:

  • Feeling hot and uncomfortable when the temperature is only slightly elevated
  • Feeling dizzy or dizzy
  • Headache
  • feeling weak and tired
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Inability to sweat

man with a towel around his neck suffering from heatstroke

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can you treat heat intolerance?

Heat intolerance is not something that can be treated with medication, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of overheating:

  • Take a cold shower or bath
  • Use cold washcloths or ice packs on your neck and wrists
  • Run a fan or air conditioning when you sleep
  • Close your curtains or blinds to create a shade
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun for long periods
  • Drink plenty of water, ice cold water will keep you cool and hydrated
  • Sleep in breathable sheets

“The first step in treating IH is recognizing that you are at risk,” adds Lee. “If you are suffering from any of the underlying conditions above, IH could well be a problem for you, so you should be aware of it. You should plan ahead to adopt measures to prevent yourself from overheating.It is also imperative that any underlying medical conditions are treated.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice.

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