Too Hot for Comfort: Managing Your Health During the Hot Weather

By: Victor Ogunyemi

Nature plays its cards when we take the chill for granted, dealing us a hand of relentless heat as a reminder to value the cool moments. As the temperature rises, so do challenges for students who have to endure the stickiness of sweat, a companion at all times. It’s crucial to understand the effects on our health and adopt strategies to beat it.

Understanding the Heat’s Impact

Heat gain in the human body can be caused by a combination of external heat from the environment and internal body heat generated from metabolic processes. Rapid rise in heat gain due to exposure to hotter than average conditions compromises the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Here is what students commonly experience at the University of Ibadan:

Discomfort and restlessness: The prevalent and relatable impact of heat  is the discomfort it brings frequently which in turn results in restlessness. At night, finding a comfortable sleeping position becomes challenging as sweat sticks to bedsheets. To emphasize the severity of the situation, students seek relief by stepping outside their rooms to embrace the freshness of the night air. Even during school hours in the daytime, portable and handheld fans have become classroom essentials.

Dehydration: the body loses fluid due to heavy sweating caused by the  hot weather. When the body loses more fluids through sweating than it takes in through consumption of water, it can lead to dehydration.

Heat rash: This is a skin irritation caused when sweat ducts get blocked  due to excessive sweating in the process of cooling the body. The trapped sweat beneath the skin can cause small red bumps and itching. Friction from clothing can worsen the condition.

Heat cramps: they’re a mild form of heat illness. They are painful muscle spasms that happen when the body gets too hot, it occurs during heavy exercise in hot environments. Heat cramps may involve any muscle group involved in exercise.

Heat syncope: Heat syncope is fainting or dizziness that occurs during prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It often happens when we stand still for extended periods.

Coping Strategies to Minimize the Impacts of Heat

Stay hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day, it replenishes the fluids lost during excessive sweat, it is one of the easiest ways of preventing heat-related illnesses; make it a practice whenever you leave your hostel to always take a water bottle with you. Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting and light coloured clothing; seek shade during peak sunlight hours. You can also go to a public building with an air conditioner to relax, take cool showers or baths in the morning and at night. When going to sleep, use light bed linen and sheets, to avoid heat accumulation. Consume hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables with high water content. Take breaks in a cool environment if you’re working or exercising outdoors for an extended period.

Most importantly, prioritizing personal hygiene is crucial not only in minimizing the impact of heat but also as a basic component of good health. Regular showers not only refresh but also rid the body of accumulated sweat, preventing discomfort and body odor. Maintaining oral hygiene, along with adequate hydration, supports overall well-being, especially in preventing dry mouth — a common concern in warmer conditions.

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