High humidity risks: How deadly combination of heat and humidity could impact our health
The combination of high heat and humidity can be deadly and may lead to many unexpected health issues, say experts.
Monsoon has brought some relief in Delhi as the heavy rains in the capital and surrounding areas brought the mercury down to comfortable levels. But the past few days were unbearable for many as the humidity levels soared along with high temperatures. On Monday, the heat index climbed to 52 degrees, the highest so far this year. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature, according to the National Weather Service. (Also read: Monsoon Ayurveda: Simple and effective health tips during rainy season)
The combination of high heat and humidity can be deadly and may lead to many unexpected health issues, say experts. From heat stroke, brain disorders to depression, high humidity can affect your health in a number of ways.
While intense heatwave can cause dehydration, heat stroke, skin issues, heart-related illnesses, high humidity can accelerate its impact on the body making fainting attacks, heat strokes, heart attack and mood disorders a common occurrence. This happens because the body finds it difficult to cool off when the moisture stays on the skin for too long.
"Our bodies typically use air to expel the sweat that collects on the skin when we perspire. This allows the body to cool down. When the humidity in the air is high, the warm moisture stays on our skin longer, making us feel even hotter," says Dr Harish Chafle, Senior Consultant in Pulmonology and Critical Care at Global Hospital, Parel Mumbai.
Many people find it difficult to concentrate or fatigued when the humidity is high and experts confirm there are multitude of reasons why such weather conditions can make people sick in a number of ways.
DROWSINESS AND FATIGUE
- High humidity can aggravate sensations of drowsiness and fatigue.
- It can also lead to hyperthermia, a condition in which you overheat because your body is unable to expel heat properly. This makes high humidity even more dangerous than high heat alone.
MOOD SWINGS, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, DEPRESSION
- High humidity can put you in a bad mood. The science is still pretty limited, but some interesting studies say it might influence brain chemicals that regulate mood. Many patients seem to experience a summer version of seasonal affective disorder when they get exposed to high humidity. People with this condition feel depressed and can experience anxiety and, in some cases, even feel suicidal.
Here are other health troubles high humidity can cause
FAINTING ATTACK, VOMITING, HEAT STROKE
"Humidity can cause dehydration, confusion, fatigue and lethargy. Some individuals, especially cardiac patients, can even experience arrythmia or irregular heartbeat due to increase in humidity. Fainting attacks and heat stroke can occur in elderly and frail," says Dr Honey Savla, Consultant Internal Medicine, Wockhardt Hospital.
"Some may go to an extent of experiencing vomiting and gastroenteritis which further leads to dehydration and weight loss," adds Dr Savla.
Dr Akhilesh Yadav, Max Super Speciality Hospital Vaishali says living in a humid climate might make skin more susceptible to rashes and pimples.
"Humidity can interfere with several basic processes like sleeping or being hydrated, even in less severe ways. Dehydration and little sleep both have a negative effect on our mind and mood. High humidity also causes irritation, anxiety among people which can result in changed moods," says Dr Yadav.