While hypothermia is something most of us are warned about as children before we go play in the snow, hyperthermia - its lesser-known opposite that can result from a casual hike through the desert - and can be just as dangerous. When the body becomes too hot due to failed thermoregulation (which happens when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate) hyperthermia occurs.
Much like hypothermia, hyperthermia can become incredibly dangerous if an individual does not seek immediate medical treatment - and the result can be as severe as permanent disability or even death.
So, next time you plan to take to the Mojave, remember this list of symptoms to avoid learning what dying of heat, lost in the desert is like.
You Sweat And Your Pulse Weakens
The initial symptoms of hyperthermia are hard to distinguish from those of someone who has just finished a heavy workout. The person will begin to sweat heavily and their pulse will become weak and rapid. At first, their skin will become cool, clammy, and pale and, eventually, heat cramps will occur as a result of the continued loss of body fluids.
Skin Becomes Hot And Dry
As the body continues to lose fluids and begins to - quite literally - dry up, the skin, lips, and mouth will become hot and dry. Once the body no longer has sufficient fluids to sweat, any efforts to try and cool itself down will eventually fail as dehydration kicks in.
Nausea, Vomiting, And Headaches Occur
Hyperthermia officially begins when the body's internal temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit or above. As the body continues to be pushed to its limits, the first signs of impending shut down begin to appear in the form of nausea, vomiting, and headaches courtesy of severe dehydration.
Your Blood Pressure Lowers And You Become Dizzy Or Faint
Eventually, heat syncope occurs as the consistent exposure to extreme heat forces the body to struggle through its most menial tasks, lowering blood pressure and weakening the heart, resulting in lightheadedness and even fainting.