7 Weird But Totally Normal Things That Happen To Your Body During A Heatwave
In case you haven't heard (i.e. don't have Instagram) there's a mega heatwave in parts of the UK at the moment, with many of us basking in glorious sunshine. I, for one, am making the most of it, refusing to socialise, eat, or exercise anywhere that isn't al fresco. However, that isn't without its side effects, and there are some normal but totally weird things that happen to your body in a heatwave.
It's not specific to the UK and can take hold on holiday, too, so the below may prove to be useful information. I'm a sweaty mess, but apparently that's totally normal when all your waking hours are spent in 29 degree heat. The sunshine is here to stay for the next week, so make the most of it, and don't panic if you've experienced any of the below. Pour the Pimms, head to the park, and make some ice lollies. Just don't forget the SPF. Our poor English bodies aren't used to the sunshine, so are possibly slightly confused, with the below symptoms leaving me initially baffled, but don't panic: it's all good (but, caveat, I'm not a doctor, so if you feel really unwell, head inside ASAP.)
1. Your Fingers Swell Up
Our blood vessels expand to try and help our bodies cool down. When they do so, they leak into the tissue, which causes our fingers (and ankles and toes, unless that's just me) to swell up. It may be uncomfortable and not particularly pretty, but it's nothing to worry about and will go away on its own.
2. You Get A Prickly Heat Rash
In the summer, we sweat. "When temperatures rise, the body reacts by increasing blood flow to the skin's surface, taking the heat from within the body to the surface," according to the BBC. This heat then evaporates off the body in the form of sweat, which then helps the body cool down, but sweat glands can sometimes get blocked, which means the sweat can't evaporate. This leads to a red rash known as prickly heat. It will go away when you're not exposed to the sun anymore.
3. Your Skin Suffers
I thought this was just because of copious sun screen application (see, I'm not a total idiot) but actually, the act of sweating can cause our sebaceous (oil-creating) glands to work overtime on producing oil, according to the Daily Mail. This can build up and lead to spots, so be sure to cleanse extra regularly and thoroughly when you've been in the sun.
4. You May Get A Fungal Infection
This is the result of more sweat than usual pooling in your socks (delicious, I know), as fungal infections like Athlete's Foot gravitate towards warmth and moisture. Be sure to change your socks regularly, the Daily Mail advises, and make sure you're cleaning properly. There are lots of dedicated fungal cream treatments out there, too.
5. Your Sex Life Gets Affected
The sun makes most of us happy (sort of the upside of Seasonal Affected Disorder, if you will,) which anecdotally, may lead to more sex. Interestingly, male fertility is adversely impacted by the heat, according to the The Telegraph, as sperm count and even sperm mobility decreases. Make of it that what you will.
6. You're More Tired Than Usual
When you sweat, you lose water and also vital salts. When these go, you may start to feel exhausted, according to The Weather Network. If this gets really serious, you'll actually possibly be sick, have an upset tummy, or get dizzy, so when tiredness strikes, try and seek shade, ASAP. Any excuse for a nap.
7. You Eat Less Than Usual
It's because our metabolism slows down when it's hot, and so does our appetite. We actually burn fewer calories and digest our food more slowly when it's hot, because our body temperature is naturally closer to the environmental temperature, Debra Sheats, director of Nutrition and Dietetics at St. Catherine University told CBS. "We don’t have to burn as many calories to maintain our temperature," she says. So picnic away, but you may not be in the mood for a feast.
Just rest assured all the above is totally normal when enjoying the sunshine. That said, these golden rules are always worth keeping in mind: opt for shade in the middle of the day, wear a hat, and be sun-safe. And don't forget SPF.