What happens to your body in extreme heat?
When the weather is very hot, your body has to work harder and produce more sweat to keep cool.
Under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough and your body temperature can rise rapidly. This is more likely to happen when it is humid, or when you are dehydrated and can’t produce enough sweat. It’s important that your body temperature stays between 36.1 - 37.8°C. If your temperature rises above this, you may develop signs of heat related illness.
Who is at risk?
All Queenslanders are at risk during periods of hot or prolonged high temperatures; however some people are at a higher risk of harm, such as:
- the elderly - especially those who live alone
- babies and very young children - as they produce more body heat, sweat less and their body temperature can rise more rapidly
- pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
- people who suffer from a pre-existing medical condition - such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
- people who take certain medications - such as allergy medicines (antihistamines), blood pressure and heart medications (beta-blockers), fluid tablets (diuretics) and anti- depressant or anti-psychotic medications. If you take medication, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
- people with an alcohol or other drug problem
- people with mobility problems or disability who may not be able to identify or communicate their discomfort or thirst
- people who are physically active - such as manual workers and people who play sport
The best way to reduce the risk of heat-related illness is to drink plenty of water and keep your body as cool as possible.
Common symptoms of heat-related illnesses
This chart lists the most common symptoms of heat-related illness that can affect people. Please note that the presence of symptoms may vary from person to person.
|Heat-related illness||Symptoms||First aid|
More severe and dangerous form of heat related illness.
This is a medical emergency - call triple zero (000), then:
Where to get help
For more information or support during heat event or a heatwave:
- call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) at any time
- contact your doctor, hospital or health clinic
In an emergency, call triple 000.
The following information may assist you:
Staying safe and healthy in hot weather - poster (PDF 140kb)
Tips for keeping food safe in extremely hot weather - poster (PDF 158kb)
Queensland Health would like to acknowledge that this information is based on the work undertaken by NSW Health—Environmental Health Services.