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What Is Heat Sensitivity?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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Heat sensitivity may be more commonly known by the name heat intolerance, and a number of people are subject to this condition. The causes of it can range from normal life changes like perimenopause and menopause to serious illnesses like thyroid disorders that produce too much thyroid hormone. There are other things that may result in this condition too, including ingestion of certain substances. Some people considered heat sensitive who have chronic diseases may feel significantly worse as heat climbs.

The most common symptom of heat sensitivity is sweating, which may occur in profuse amounts. People may also complain of nausea, dizziness, and some people could actually vomit or faint. Another symptom is a sensation the heart is pounding in the chest (palpitations).

As the temperature climbs, and before most other people would notice or complain of the warmth, the affected person becomes greatly uncomfortable and can’t find a way to get comfortable if temperature isn’t lowered. People who are heat intolerant do not need to be outside to feel these effects. A warm indoor room can cause them too.

Some people have conditions that are exacerbated by heat sensitivity. Sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS) and lupus may find themselves with increased pain and/or an increase in symptoms in higher temperatures. Those with lupus can also be subject to cold sensitivity, and many people with these conditions find they are best off in environments where they can keep temperature stable.

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As mentioned, many people who are pre-menopausal or going through menopause may have bouts of heat sensitivity, and sometimes women may feel overly warm even if temperature doesn’t correspond to this symptom. Hot flashes happen in winter and summer, and many women report waking drenched in sweat even if the temperature isn’t very warm. Sometimes warmer weather precipitates a hot flash or a sense of feeling uncomfortable and overly warm; this condition tends to lessen after full menopause has occurred.

Heat sensitivity can be a symptom of serious illnesses, like hyperthyroidism or Grave’s disease, which also causes over-production of thyroid hormone. When heat sensitivity occurs without other identifiable cause, people may need to have their thyroid levels checked with simple blood tests to rule out these potential illnesses. Treatment of these illnesses can help reduce heat intolerance in the future.

There are a few other things that may be causal factors for heat sensitivity. Some people find they are intolerant to higher temperatures when they have moderated or high caffeine intake levels. Various forms of amphetamines, including illegal ones and those taken to treat conditions like attention deficit disorder (ADD) may make tolerating higher temperatures more difficult.

The ways to treat heat intolerance may vary by underlying diagnosis. The coffee drinker could simply cut back on coffee consumption or switch to decaf. Non-amphetamine based ADD medications could be considered for those with ADD. Temperature control in a home is vital, especially for people with lupus or MS. Air-conditioning is often recommended, yet not all people can afford a portable air conditioner or central air. Doctors may be able to write prescriptions for these, which could qualify as a medical expense and be deducted from taxes, or possibly paid for with money from a health savings account if prescribed by a doctor.

Other measures to treat this condition include taking cool baths or showers. Drinking plenty of water is important to prevent too much fluid loss from heavy perspiration. Heading to air-conditioned areas like movie theaters or shopping malls during very hot parts of the day may be of use too.

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Discuss this Article

Heavanet
Post 2

This problem can definitely limit your activities on hot days Rundocuri. Try taking water with you when you are out in the heat, and take frequent breaks when you feel like you are starting to heat up. I have issues with heat sensitivity too, but only on extremely hot days. When I drink lots of water, I find that I am less likely to overheat.

Rundocuri
Post 1

I have major intolerance to being in the sun and heat for too long. I don't have any underlying problems, I'm just very heat sensitive. When I start to feel sick and dizzy, I have to get out of the heat and into the shade or a cool area as soon as possible.

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