Abnormal heat: 10 questions about how to get through the summer

WE APPRECIATE SUMMER not only for endless opportunities for walks, sports and meeting friends, but also for well-being. This is facilitated by a long daylight hours, a smaller amount of clothing, an approaching vacation and at least a little additional vitamin D, which is responsible for heart health , mood , immunity, and much more, no less important. True, when warm weather turns into abnormal heat, everything can change – for example, there is a risk of getting a dangerous state of hyperthermia with a final point in the form of heatstroke. We’ve rounded up answers to popular questions about heat and coolness to help you survive the summer without losses.        

TEXT: Marina Levicheva 

Why does ice cream have a headache?

” Brain Freeze “, also known as sfenopalativnaya ganglionevralgiya (can not remember) – a sharp pain in his head after drinking very cold food or beverage. The most likely cause is the expansion of blood vessels in the anterior part of the brain, provoked by the effect of a cold stimulus on the sensitive nerve endings of the palate.   

Many studies (although, let’s be fair, not all ) suggest that people with migraines are more likely to experience “brain freeze.” And no, this is not just a funny thing that they suddenly began to study. Scientists think that understanding the mechanism of cold headaches could help develop a better cure for migraines.    

Which drinks are best cooled

Despite the fact that this is somewhat contrary to logic, there is still some sense in a cup of hot tea or coffee in the heat. How it works: We have a TRPV1 receptor on our tongue that reacts to heat, which immediately sends a signal to the brain to cool down when we eat or drink something hot. And even in very hot weather, this signal does not disappear anywhere. It turns out that the body after a hot drink will indeed begin to cool a little faster than it could – by increasing the amount of sweat , which evaporates from the skin and accelerates the overall heat loss.  

By the way, the same TRPV1 receptor reacts to spicy foods (which is why it’s so hot after the pepper in the mouth). And this is one of the possible explanations for why spicy and spicy food is popular in many hot countries.  

How to tell if your body is dehydrated

Our body is almost 60 % water , so it is really important to replenish its reserves (even though this is unlikely to improve the condition of the skin). It is believed that the first effects of dehydration can occur as soon as 1-2 % of the fluid is lost . Dry mouth (often accompanied by an unpleasant odor, since the less saliva in the mouth, the more bacteria it contains), dark urine (with a normal level of hydration, it is light), low pressure (if it is not typical for you) – all this can be a sign dehydration .       

Lack of water in the body can explain fatigue for no particular reason, fog in the head and increased anxiety. And one study even showed that dehydration can lead to driving errors, which are common in drivers with low blood alcohol levels. In short, in any unclear situation (especially in summer), drink a couple of glasses of water. And don’t forget about extra hydration if you’re working or exercising outside.   

Science supports 3 reasons not to love summer

It is generally accepted that summer is definitely a pleasant and extremely positive season. But, if you think about it, each of us, not only Lana Del Rey, has the right to summertime sadness.

  First, in the summer, we may be in danger of seasonal affective disorder. And although it does happen more often in the fall and winter, the abundance of light and stuffiness in the summer months can easily provoke insomnia. Followed by all the unpleasant symptoms of sleep deprivation, including cognitive and emotional difficulties.     

  Second, there is a risk of heat-induced migraine This type of headache is usually triggered by the same large amount of daylight and, more rarely, high humidity and unstable atmospheric pressure. 

  Third, summer is the most stressful time of the year. And even if one does not think so, the research results paint a pretty clear picture: the level of cortisol, the main stress hormone, is consistently higher in the summer months.  

Why do we eat less in summer?

For this we need to thank or scold our brain. Or rather, the hypothalamus, the department that controls the main functions of the body . Usually, it is he who controls the appetite, first recognizing the feeling of hunger through the increased level of the hormone ghrelin, and then in every possible way contributing to its satisfaction. But the hypothalamus is also responsible for thermoregulation. So in the summer, focusing on cooling the body as a more important task, the hypothalamus simply forgets about the need to eat well. 

Although the choice of the hypothalamus can be explained not only by the need to remove water to cool the body, but also by the fact that the digestive process generates a significant amount of heat . The one that we do not experience in the summer.  

Why does sweat smell harsh

We have two types of sweat glands , eccrine and apocrine, and therefore two types of sweat. Eccrine sweat is secreted all over the body and is not accompanied by cell damage, so it is odorless. For example, the back and forehead may sweat a lot, but not smell. At the same time, apocrine sweat is secreted only under the armpits and in the groin area, contains particles of cells and has a smell – but not very strong. 

Difficulties with apocrine sweat begin when it meets bacteria that live on our skin. By feeding on the proteins contained in those very particles of cells, bacteria leave behind by-products. And now they are already spreading the scent that we know as the smell of sweat. 

There are a number of things that can make sweat odor slightly stronger than average: eating spicy foods, stress overloads that increase sweat gland activity in general, and certain medical conditions (diabetes, overactive thyroid gland). In addition, some people are genetically predisposed to a stronger sweat odor.    

Is it possible to catch a cold
under the air conditioner

The short answer is no. Long answer: the most common viruses that cause colds, feel better when humidity is low. And in this sense, the conditioner can indeed slightly increase the risks through drying out the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth. And although there is no research on this issue and we are only dealing with scientific guesses, there is evidence that people who spend more time in air-conditioned rooms are more likely to go to doctors with complaints of ears, nose and throat. (Could this be a symptom of a seasonal allergy mistaken for a cold? Quite .)       

What is really dangerous about the air conditioner is fungi and bacteria that can accumulate in it if it is not cleaned often enough. The US Environmental Protection Agency warns that sometimes we put ourselves in greater danger when we are indoors than outdoors. 

And if you sleep with a fan

In the absence of air conditioning, a good old fan is a great way to escape the heat. What’s more, a fan that runs at night can help promote sleep through white noise. On the other hand, ventilators can dry out your paranasal sinuses, which can lead to mucus production and congestion in the morning. And allergy sufferers should be more careful with them, since not only air will circulate around the room when the fan is running, but also particles of dust, pollen and everything else.   

Why are insects so angry in summer?

It would be more correct to say not “evil”, but “too active”. Even in countries with eternal summer, insects are especially mobile in the hot months, which, as scientists explain , is due to their cold-bloodedness, in which the speed of processes in the body directly depends on the ambient temperature.   

Firstly, the warmer it is outside, the more energy flies, mosquitoes, bees and so on have energy for flying and buzzing (although in a completely abnormal heat, they are likely to temporarily stop their activity). Secondly, in many species of insects, after the winter rest, the mating season begins, so that we, in fact, are dealing with sex-obsessed boys and girls from the insect world. And this, of course, is not up to calmness. 

Does the sun improve the appearance of the skin

This is which side to look at. In theory, sunlight, which triggers the body to synthesize vitamin D, could provide the skin with some of the benefits of moving immune cells to the upper layers, where these cells are expected to deal with not only UV damage, but other imperfections as well. On the other hand, it is absurd to deliberately damage the skin in order to trigger its recovery. When it comes to treating acne with sun rays, there is no scientific basis for this method. Yes, many people say that the skin gets better on vacation, but this, dermatologists explain , is due to the absence of stress, and not at all with ultraviolet light.   

But the sun, let’s be fair, is not a completely useless thing. Evidence from new research suggests that sun exposure can at least stabilize blood pressure. The sun’s rays also show potential for reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis (although research is still ongoing here).    

Why is it so hard to work in the heat?

If in hot weather you are annoyed not only by your office, but also – as if out of solidarity – all the offices in the area, you are not alone. As one study on the topic has shown , ambient temperature significantly affects a person’s emotional and behavioral responses. Moreover, even small fluctuations in temperature made the behavior of office workers less social, increasing their fatigue and reducing overall productivity.   

Researchers at Harvard have found that high temperatures literally inhibit our brains. In the experiments, students who lived in air-conditioned rooms performed better on cognitive tests than those who lived in non-air conditioned rooms. The latter also took longer to answer, even if it was correct. It is also important that the effect that heat has on the ability to think persists when entering a room with a comfortable temperature. So if you walk into a cool office from a molten street, your brain will take time to get in shape.  

5 easy ways to escape the heat 

  Exercise. It may sound strange, but aerobic exercise is a kind of acclimatization that teaches our body to effectively cope with high temperatures. 

  Walk in the parks. Unlike asphalt, which literally melts underfoot, making everything around it even hotter, grass and plants act as living air conditioners.

  Don’t wash off sweat. This is how natural thermoregulation works: by allowing sweat to evaporate from the skin, we increase the cooling rate of the body.

  Turn off the light. It doesn’t seem obvious, but even one small light bulb generates a lot of heat The wires of household appliances do the same. So if it gets too hot in the house, try unplugging everything you don’t need right now and assess the situation.  

  Humble yourself. The human has incredible abilities, including the ability to adapt to heat stress. So if you just take the heat for granted, remembering to protect your skin from UV rays , after a few days you will begin to feel not “terrible”, but “normal”. 

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