Hot, humid summer days can feel unbearable sometimes. Humidity, or the amount of moisture in the air, can make the temperature feel warmer, as our sweat is slower to evaporate. Not only is the muggy air uncomfortable, but it can cause our bodies to overheat, exhaust easily, and poses a potential danger to our health.
Your Body’s Response to High Humidity
To understand the effects humidity has on our bodies, we must first take a look at how we regulate our internal temperature. Naturally, when our bodies start to heat up, we release sweat. This sweat is then evaporated from the skin, which in turn, helps to cool us off.
When the air has a high moisture content, as is the case in humid weather, this sweat cannot evaporate, leaving our bodies feeling hot and sticky. To cool off, our bodies must work even harder. This results in excessive sweating, increased rate and depth of blood circulation and increased respiration. Excessive sweating can cause a loss of water and chemicals that the body needs in order to function properly, potentially putting our health in jeopardy.
Health Risks of High Humidity
High humidity can have an adverse effect on the human body. Because the air feels warmer than the official, recorded temperature, it can contribute to feelings of low energy and lethargy. In addition, hyperthermia, or over-heating as a result of your body’s inability to effectively let out heat, can negatively impact your health in conditions of high humidity. Some health risks which result from overexposure to humidity (hyperthermia) include:
If you or someone you are with begins to exhibit symptoms of heatstroke, such as headaches, confusion, or vomiting, seek medical attention immediately.
How to Combat the Effects of High Humidity
To avoid these dangers caused by the effects of humidity, be sure to take frequent breaks and hydrate often when exposed to humid weather. If you feel yourself becoming fatigued, take a moment to cool off. Find a location with air conditioning if you or anyone with you is at high risk for developing any of the above health dangers, such as older adults or young children. If you continue to feel worse or experience the above conditions, seek medical attention at an emergency or urgent care facility.