How hot temperature affects our health

While animals and plants lose much water, weight and consequently die out during extreme dry season, human beings are also affected by the hot environment in that a lot of body water content is lost through sweating.

While animals and plants lose much water, weight and consequently die out during extreme dry season, human beings are also affected by the hot environment in that a lot of body water content is lost through sweating.

When you observe carefully, you will find at many of rural district hospitals, a high turn up of patients during hot weather than in humid conditions and relatively cold weather.

During the days when I worked in a district hospital, I took time to make a comparison between the number of patients that visited my outpatient consultations as well as those hospitalized during the month of July  to the consultations and hospitalizations made in November the same year.

During the month of July with high temperatures, we recorded high turn up of patients for consultations and hospitalizations but with minor health complaints/illnesses like flu, hangover headaches, migraines and generalized body weaknesses.

All these symptoms except flu are present in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome due to dehydration.

In November, we would have a relatively low turn up for consultations and hospitalizations but with majority of patients suffering from chronic Illnesses like diabetes, advanced heart disease and kidney disease among others. These are illnesses whose relapse has no direct link with dehydration.

Rain cannot stop a sick person from visiting the hospital for treatment but the protective humid conditions helps  people minimize water loss and nutrients from their bodies. Humid conditions helps people keep energetic so as to maintain or improve on their work.

To patients having the same health complaints/illnesses, response to treatment was poor in high temperatures of July than in relatively humid November. This also explains why loss of water from the body through excessive sweats and subsequent dehydration reduce the mechanism of drug action. 

This is true due to the fact that the choice of medium reflects a link to the physiological environment, which remains constant independent of the product characteristics (drugs). The use of water alone or with a solubilizing agent, fulfills this requirement.

Imagine a patient who is on anti-TB oral drugs, if there is no enough water content in his or her body to help vital organs execute immediate elimination of the toxicity caused by these drugs, the end result would be organ or multi-organ failure.

As said earlier, chronic fatigue syndrome is often seen in dry weather conditions. Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome such as headaches, poor digestion and dry skin problems are often seen.

Nearly all body functions are about fluid balance, and even small changes in fluid balance can affect our performance and daily life. If this fluid is not replaced blood volume can drop. As a result, there is an urgent need for the heart to work much harder in order to supply the skin, muscles with oxygen and nutrients.

As dehydration progresses, the body redirects blood to the working muscles and away from the skin, impairing the body’s ability to diffuse heat. The increase in internal heat then results in muscle cramps, light-headedness, and fatigue. Headaches are a consequence of physical and mental stress that results from lack of proper hydration.

Muscle pain will occur as many toxins remain trapped in the muscle fibers to cause cramps.

In addition, Poor digestion is another health conditions people with chronic dehydration suffer. To digest food properly a person need to drink plenty of water but not with meals as it dilutes stomach acid.

It is advisable to drink at least half a liter of water 45 minutes before you eat. The water passes through the stomach and into the intestine and within half an hour, it is secreted back into the stomach and into the mucous barrier. This barrier retains the sodium bicarbonate that is required to neutralize the acid as it attempts to pass through the mucus.

People suffering from dehydration have inefficient mucous layers and as a result the gastric or stomach acid creeps through to cause pain as seen in many patients with chronic gastritis.

Dr. Joseph Kamugisha is a resident oncologist based in Jerusalem