However, sometimes sweating isn’t enough. In this case, your body’s temperature can rise rapidly causing brain and other organ damage.
There are several methods for which abnormally high body temperature may be produced:
- environmental temperature
- intentional heat therapy to treat cancer
- induced by your body (fever) to fight infection
- drugs ~ anesthesia causing malignant hyperthermia
- head injury causing damage to heat regulating centers in brain
Under healthy conditions, your body has a thermostat that works to maintain a balance between heat gains and losses. When you’re too hot you sweat. As sweat dries it cools your skin causing your body temperature to go down.
Yet, being hot for too long can cause potentially serious heat illnesses. Environmentally related hyperthermia can result in these health conditions:
Heat stroke can be life threatening, and some of its symptoms include:
- in a coma
- not sweating
- dry flushed skin
- temperature over 104
- confused, delirious, staggering
The temperature doesn’t have to be extremely high for you to be at risk of hyperthermia. What matters most is anything that affects your body’s cooling ability. Some health and environmental scenarios that put you at a higher risk of insufficient cooling are:
- high humidity
- age caused skin changes
- poor working sweat glands
- heart, lung, kidney disease
- blood vessel, circulation issues
- health conditions that cause weakness
- drugs ~ diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, some heart & blood pressure medications
Generally, increasing fluid intake during hot weather regardless of thirst level is crucial for preventing hyperthermia.
Also, heavy sweating causes the loss of necessary salt and mineral electrolytes. The best way to replenish is via a health balanced diet. An alternative is drinking commercial electrolyte enhanced drinks.
A sudden change in temperature before acclimation can cause hyperthermia as well. So limit any vigorous physical activity for several days until your body adjusts to the heat.
Besides overheating, hyperthermia is used to refer to thermal therapy or thermotherapy. Heat treatment is sometimes carefully administered for medical purposes, especially to treat cancer.
Thermal therapy is a form of cancer treatment in which body tissue is exposed to high temperature. The goal is for its heat to shrink, and possibly destroy, cancer without causing harm to healthy cells.
Because thermal therapy doesn’t cause the side effects associated with other forms of cancer treatment, i.e. radiation or chemotherapy, it is being considered more often. And in some cases, heat might be used in concert with other cancer therapies.
Thermal therapy is being used to treat various cancers, including:
Thermal therapy may be used on a very small area or your entire body. The excessive heat can some side effects, like:
Malignant hyperthermia is a potentially fatal problem that can occur during surgery. It is caused by a reaction to anesthesia and your propensity is inherited.
What happens is that after receiving a general anesthesia your body temperature rises very quickly. In conjunction with this high fever, malignant hyperthermia may cause:
- muscle pain
- kidney failure
- dark brown urine
- metabolic acidosis
- muscle rigidity, stiffness
- severe muscle contractions
The result can be tissue and organ damage. And for some even death.