Hot Damn

Hot town! Summer in the city!

Heat stress, we are often told, is not to be taken lightly. A recent hailstorm brought out legions of roofers. Drive down any street and there is ample evidence of heat-related stress during this hot summer.

Those working or exercising outside need to know this: Oxygen is as important, if not more important in avoiding heat stress than that old bromide, Hydration! Why is this?

Oxygen, the O2 molecule that we breathe, doesn’t like heat – it is pushed out of suspension and out of our body fluids when we become heated. A basic law of physics is that heated liquid (water) has low levels of oxygen.

Rebecca Maitland, in a Houston Chronicle article, July 13, ’17, lists symptoms of heat stress (with my comments):

  1. Profuse sweating (the body’s involuntary attempts to cool down)
  2. Paleness (vital organs become primary receivers of oxygen-carrying blood)
  3. Muscle cramps (always an indication of hypoxia, or inadequate oxygen in the muscle cells)
  4. Weakness (food + OXYGEN = energy)
  5. Headache (brain not receiving adequate oxygen … and there’s more here but that’s another blog post about pH)
  6. Nausea or vomiting (the body’s way of ridding itself of oxygen-demanding digestive activity)
  7. Weak but rapid pulse (call it circulatory system lite; again, the body’s involuntary way, though diminished due to lack of oxygen, of delivering oxygen to vital organs)

OSHA tells us that “age, weight, degree of physical fitness, degree of acclimatization, metabolism, dehydration, use of alcohol or drugs, and a variety of medical conditions such as hypertension all affect a person’s sensitivity to heat. ” All oxygen-related, so be careful out there and think oxygen!