Health Effects of Heatwave and Precautions to Avoid them

What is Heat Wave?

Excessively hot and humid weather that prolongs over a period of time is commonly known as a heatwave. The heatwave is measured in relation to the usual weather conditions of a particular place. Therefore, the heatwave will be varying from place to place as their usual climatic conditions differ. Huge changes have been observed in climates all over the world in the past decade. This has caused deaths, failure of crops, and outraged power supply. The extreme weather is dangerous as the human body cannot bear overheating when it is not used to. Warning calls are issued beforehand so as to make people aware of the precautions to be taken. The forecasting departments are responsible to alert people of the coming climatic conditions.

How Long Does A Heat Wave Last?

A heatwave persists for at least 3 or 5 days in a row in which the temperatures reach maximum. However, the time period varies in different regions. The United States has a heatwave defined as 2 days of consecutive high temperatures.

What are the Health Effects of Heat Wave?

The heatwave has effects on health as the body does not tolerate excessive heat. Overheating can cause dehydration resulting in weakness and fatigue. Older people and children are more likely to suffer from heatwave as their bodies cannot resist much.


Heatstroke is commonly suffered at high temperature. Overweight people suffer more from heat as their body’s functioning is reduced. Also, older people often take medicines for high blood pressure and related conditions which do not let the body dissipate heat.

Heat Edema

Edema is the swelling of hands and feet when excess fluid accumulates in the body. The water retention worsens in high temperatures and is called heat edema. It does not require any treatment; only precautionary measures can help to overcome swelling. Know more about edema and the measures to be taken to reduce swelling and pain.

Heat Rash

Heat rash is caused when sweat ducts become ruptured. Prickly heat is the other name for heat rash which also causes inflammation. Tight clothing makes rash occur as there is no way for the sweat ducts for air. Wearing loose clothing is recommended to avoid a rash.

Heat Cramps

Other painful conditions occurring during heatwave include heat cramps. The cramps can be painful as they occur after exertion. Also, strenuous exercise causes such cramps. A quick method of relief from pain is rehydrating with fluids containing electrolytes. Sports drinks are a good option for revitalizing your body with electrolytes.

Heat Syncope

Intense sweating results in a condition called heat syncope. Treatment of heat syncope is to cool and rehydrate the body. Oral rehydration therapies are the first-line treatment which helps to wear off the painful symptoms.

Heat Exhaustion

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are very similar. Excessive dehydration causes exhaustion resulting in other symptoms such as diarrhea, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and malaise. Patients are advised to rest after they are discharged from the hospital to recover from the loss. Drinking plenty of water can help to rehydrate the body while the rest makes your body regain strength.

Are there any Psychological and Sociological Effects of Heat Wave?

A heatwave has adverse effects on health in several ways. The psychological effects cause stress which can result in violent behavior. It is observed that reported crimes are increases when the temperatures increase. Also, productivity at work decreases in hot weather.

Power Outages

The demand for electricity increases when the weather is excessively hot. People use air conditioners as a way to cool their body. The timely use of air conditioners in increased if the weather remains hot for more than 2 or 3 consecutive days. The heat buildup in indoors makes power supply short as the use increases.


A heatwave can make the vegetation dry which can then contribute to wildfires.

What Physical Damage is caused by Heat Wave?

Physical damage is also caused as a result of heatwave because of high temperatures. The roads, railroads are damaged when the hot temperatures shoot high. This is called sun kinking and it can be a serious problem in some countries including the USA, Canada, and the Middle East.

Impact of Heat Wave on Environment

The environmental effects of heat can be deadly in many ways. The carbon intake of ecosystem reduces when temperatures are high. This puts stress on the ecosystem which affects biological productivity. Vegetation is reduced as the crops get damaged in the hot climate. Reduced vegetation thereby affects the atmosphere.

Precautions to Take in Heatwave

The world is facing heat waves as the temperatures have raised higher than they used to be in the past days. Soaring temperatures can be dangerous for health in various ways. There are precautions that should be taken in excessively hot weathers to stay safe. It is best to stay in cool places where an air conditioner is available. Let it be a shopping mall, a library, or any other public place.

Eat light meals in hot weather and drink as much as you can to avoid dehydration. It is also recommended to avoid caffeine and alcohol. Salt tablets should only be taken when a doctor prescribes. In case of a power outage, use fans that are operated with battery or are handheld. Rubbing ice cubes over parts of your body particularly face, back and neck will give you a cooling effect.

Moreover, exercise should be avoided in hot weathers as it may drain you. Try to make outings only when during evening hours. It is advised to drink water after short intervals even if young adults exercise. Although plain water is best to hydrate your body, any juice or sports drink can also be a good option to overcome dehydration and fulfill your body’s requirement.

How to Prepare for Heat Wave?

It is always better to know about a heatwave and its effects beforehand. Being prepared makes your body suffers less from the after-effects. Direct sunlight through the windows can overheat indoors and it is better to shield the windows that will block sunlight. Check your air conditioner for any air leaks so as to prepare for the heatwave. Keep water refrigerated to drink as much as you can in the hot weather. Try foods that give you a cooling effect such as fruits and vegetables. Such foods and juices will keep you full and satisfy your cravings as well.

Bottom Line

Making yourself aware of the signs of a heatwave can save your body from suffering. You can prepare well beforehand and keep alternatives in case any plan does not work. Eating options should be chosen wisely when the weather is extremely hot to avoid your body overheating. Drinking as much as you can replace the water loss while you sweat. Also, electrolytes solution is advised when heatwave persists for longer than usual. This will save the minerals in your body and refill what has been lost.


Khadija Ahmad

An author at Ask Health News, Khadija has good experience in Health And Physical Education and delivers her research work to entertain readers. Her words reflect creativity and intellect as she succeeds in shaping them into interesting articles for readers. Email: khadija@askhealthnews.com

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