While the number varies from person to person, the human body temperature usually rests around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to your various bodily processes, your core temperature increases when you have a fever, when exposed to heat and during exercise. Sweat is your body's built-in cooling system, but when sweat doesn't lower your core temperature enough, you're at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, both of which can result in nausea, lethargy and even unconsciousness. Know how to cool down quickly to avoid the dangers of outdoor activity and strenuous exercise in hot conditions.
Find shade or indoor air conditioning to help cool off. Overheating is often the result of exercising in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you exhibit some of the signs of overheating, heat exhaustion or heat stroke -- including fatigue, headache, lethargy, nausea or dizziness -- it's time to get out of the sun to help your body cool off.
Drink water to rehydrate your body. Heat stroke occurs when your body has lost too much water and can no longer cool itself, and it occurs when sweat stops working to cool your body. By drinking 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes you exercise or are outside in extreme heat, you help to lower your core temperature. If you notice signs of heat exhaustion, drinking water helps to cool your core temperature quickly and safely.
Remove any excess clothing. Clothes act as an insulator for body heat, even if they're meant for exercise or outdoor play. If your body temperature is too high and you experience signs of heat problems, find a place where you can remove excess fabric and allow your skin and subsequently your core body temperature to cool.
Apply ice packs to your groin and armpits, two areas of the body that emit excessive sweat to cool the body. These hot spots are often indicative of your core temperature, so cooling them down has a similar effect on your overall body temperature. Frozen vegetables, cold water bottles and lunch box ice packs also work well in a pinch.
Immerse your body in lukewarm to cool water, if possible. Cool water helps to lower your core temperature, but if you begin shivering uncontrollably, get out. Using water that is too cold could put your body into shock, resulting in seizures.
Is This an Emergency?
- Medline Plus: Body Temperature Normals
- American Council on Exercise: Healthy Hydration
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Heat Injury and Heat Exhaustion
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Heat Exhaustion
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Dehydration and Heat Stroke
- American Family Physician: Management of Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion