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Austin Kinesiology & Chiropractic

Dr. Jeremy T. Bryson

Heat and Humidity

July 2017

The Texas heat is in full effect. We have already had a few days where the temperature topped 100 degrees. We have also had some good rain storms, which have raised the humidity.  During the summers, you may notice that there are some days that are so humid that you never quite dry off after your shower. It is important to understand the danger of such humid days.

Human bodies cool off by increasing blood circulation, by sweating, and by panting. The heart begins to pump more blood, blood vessels dilate to accommodate the increased flow, and the bundles of tiny capillaries threading through the upper layers of skin are put into operation. This is why your skin may look flushed when you are hot. The body's blood is circulated closer to the skin's surface, and excess heat radiates into the cooler atmosphere. At the same time, water is pushed through the skin as perspiration. The skin handles about 90 percent of the body's heat dissipating function.

Sweat has to evaporate in order to remove heat from the body. High relative humidity prevents or slows evaporation. When we get hot in a humid climate, we sweat, but the sweat does not evaporate fast enough to cool us. The body assumes that we need to sweat more, so we do. This can lead to rapid dehydration. We also lose important electrolytes with our sweat. These need to be replaced as much as the water does. When exercising in the heat, make sure you are properly hydrating and replacing lost electrolytes. There are specialized electrolyte drinks available in stores, or you can make your own with water, lemons or limes, and different salts (magnesium, potassium, sodium).

If you feel exhausted when you are out in the heat, find shade and a breeze to cool off for a bit. Cool water can help regulate your body temperature. Drink it, bath in it, or pour it on your head and neck (where we lose much of our heat).


  • In a normal year, approximately 175 Americans die from extreme heat. Young children, elderly people, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to become victims.
  • Between 1936 and 1975, nearly 20,000 people succumbed to the effects of heat and solar radiation.
  • Because men sweat more than women, men are more susceptible to heat illness because they become more quickly dehydrated.