Heatwave: What happens to your body when it gets too hot?

What happens to your body during a heatwave? [Photo: Getty]

Most people in the UK will welcome a heatwave with open arms. Al fresco dining, lazy days in the park, beach fun - what's not to love?

But the hot weather also brings with it some health risks, mainly because our bodies aren't necessarily that great at coping with a swing in temperature.

"Although many of us look forward to warmer weather, it's extremely important to prepare for it, as it can cause some serious health issues," explains Dr Diana Gall from Doctor4U.

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Heatwave hits the UK
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Heatwave hits the UK
Young woman cool off in the sea at Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
Amur tiger Minerva cools off in her pool at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded.
View of The Shard and Canary Wharfs skyline as the sky is cloudy, London on July 26, 2019. Yesterday was the second hottest day ever recorded in the history of Great Britain with 37.9C at Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
Paddle boarders at Salthouse dock in Liverpool, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded. The UK's all-time record of 38.5 degrees may be broken later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People resting in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport as the UK's biggest airport has apologised after extreme weather conditions across Europe caused flight cancellations and delays.
Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @lucymackie_ of hundreds of passengers waiting by check-in zones at Heathrow Airport, as air passengers are facing disruption due to the heatwave and a technical problem with the UK's air traffic control system.
People punt along the River Cam in Cambridge, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
Workmen enjoy ice creams in Manchester as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
Anita Ricchiuti, 22, on Scarborough beach as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A Southeastern train passes through heat haze in Ashford, Kent as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
A barbary macaque enjoys a frozen fruit and nut treat at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY On the hottest day in July since records began in the UK, members of the public visit the 7UP Free Fido Dido House, which is reintroducing the well-known 90Õs advertising character in time with the drink brands 90th Anniversary celebration, at a pop-up chill out space in London's Covent Garden.
Victora Parkes, 18 (left) and Rachel Crossland, 18, on Scarborough beach as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Charlotte Burniston (right) and Justin McNicholas (left) on Scarborough beach as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sun worshippers enjoy the sunshine on a hot sweltering day in London. (Photo by Amer Ghazzal / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Reuben Humphreys, 4 , cools off in the fountain at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Kadie Lane, 10, cools off in the fountain at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
An African white lion sunbathes at West Midlands Safari Park. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Penguins at West Midlands Safari Park cool off with mackerel flavoured ice. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Visitors enjoy the fountain at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Lightning strikes as a thunder storm passes over houses in Lee Park, Liverpool, Merseyside. The UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Lightning strikes as a thunder storm passes over houses in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Lightning strikes as a thunder storm passes over houses in Lee Park, Liverpool, Merseyside. The UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Visitors sit in deckchairs in the sun at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Children sit in the sun by 'The Friendly Giant', a pond sculpture situated in Alnwick Gardens in Anwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Sisters, Nyam May (left) and Ciara May (right), jump into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sisters, Nyam May (left) and Ciara May (right), jump into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A general view of Broadstairs beach in Kent, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
People enjoy the sun at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A lady, seen through heat haze, walks on the promenade in Folkestone, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Thomas Bristow swims under water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Freddie Ward jumps into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A woman uses a fan to cool down on a tube train in central London as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
People enjoy the sun at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sheri Bedford enjoys the sun at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Ciara May dives into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A view of the Loggia at Hever Castle in Kent through new flower meadows, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Two ladies, seen through heat haze, walk on the promenade in Folkestone, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sunbathers relax in the sunshine on the beach in Folkestone, Kent, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A dog enjoys the sea during sunny conditions in Camber, East Sussex.
A man sunbaths on Bridlington beach as hot weather hits the UK. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Lenticular clouds over English Heritage's Warkworth Castle in Northumberland as temperatures are expected to rise over the UK this week. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
People enjoy punting in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury, Kent, as temperatures are expected to rise over this week. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Parental permission given Isla Stanton enjoys the sunshine in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury, Kent, as temperatures are expected to rise over this week. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Parental permission given Isla Stanton enjoys the sunshine in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury, Kent, as temperatures are expected to rise over this week. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tourists enjoy a trip in a boat along the river in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, as temperatures are expected to rise across the UK this week.
People enjoy the sun along the river in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, as temperatures are expected to rise across the UK this week.
A windsurfer crashes through the waves during windy conditions in Camber, East Sussex.
People taking boat trips along the algae-covered Regent's Canal in London.
A view of the new flower meadows currently blooming at Hever Castle in Kent, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
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Here's what happens to our bodies when the mercury rises.

You get dehydrated

"One of the most common illnesses associated with hot weather is dehydration, which happens when the body loses more fluids than it gets," explains Dr Diana Gall from Doctor4U.

"This can be incredibly dangerous, especially considering that the body needs a certain amount of water to function properly, and without enough of it, you might experience a dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and dark or strong-smelling urine.

Dr Gall says you might also notice that you aren't urinating as often.

"Luckily, dehydration can be solved with increasing your fluids and making sure you drink enough to stay hydrated."

She says a good way of measuring how much water is enough is to check the colour of your urine.

"If it's clear or light in colour, you're likely getting enough fluids," she adds.

Dehydration can also lead to dry skin but upping your fluids and slapping on the moisturiser can help to avoid this.

You sweat more

And by more, we mean buckets!

"When your body gets too hot, the blood flow temperature activates a certain area in the brain which causes you to sweat more, and your heart rate can increase," Dr Gall explains.

"This is the body's way of adapting to the heat. As you sweat, you're also losing fluids, so may become dehydrated far sooner than on a cooler day. This usually causes dry mouth and increased thirst, so if you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure you keep yourself cool and hydrated."

Feeling hot, hot, hot! [Photo: Getty]

You overheat

Signs you are overheating include tingling skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea and an increased heart rate all of which can indicate you're on the way to suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

"Heatstroke happens when your body isn't able to keep itself cool – something that can happen when you overheat," explains Dr Gall.

"It's important to treat this condition immediately for the best chance of a quick recovery, and signs to look out for include muscle cramps, sweating (or a complete lack of sweating despite the heat), skin that's cool to touch, headache, nausea and vomiting, and a fast heartbeat.

"In these cases, it's important to cool the body down even if the skin feels cold. This can be done with a cool bath or shower, as well as rehydrating with plenty of water taken in sips."

Mental abilities and concentration can also decrease in the heat as the body and brain become dehydrated and exhausted.

You might get sunburnt

Pink skin is the external sign your body has had too much sun.

"Many people seek a summer glow by lying in the sun for hours to achieve a bronzed look, but it's important to know that this is also skin damage, and can not only be painful now, but it could cause more problems later in life," Dr Gall explains.

Sunburn often goes hand in hand along with dehydration, but is easily preventable.

"To avoid burning your skin whilst enjoying the sun, you should choose a broad-spectrum sun-cream and apply it often," Dr Gall advises.

Avoid the risks

"To avoid becoming ill due to the heat this summer, you can help yourself by staying indoors during the hottest hours (usually between 11am-3pm), wearing loose-fitting clothing to help air to circulate, drinking plenty of water, and making sure you use a broad-spectrum sun cream with a mid to high SPF rating," Dr Gall advises.

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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