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Human body in an environment where temperature is above body temperature

Human body in an environment where temperature is above body temperature



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What would happen if humans were to live in an environment where the temperature is above the body temperature?

Does the human body have a mechanism to cool the body?

When the surrounding temperature is below the body temperature, the body has a mechanism to heat up. When the surrounding temperature is above the body temperature, the body would require some mechanism to cool down since there will be a net heat transfer into the body.


There are many ways by which a healthy human body deliberately dissipates heat. First, it is important to note bodily temperature is not uniform. Our skin is generally colder or warmer than the rest of the body, which is the reason why we place the thermometer between our armpit or inside our mouth, instead of just placing it in our say, fingernails.

Vessel dilation

Arterioles can tighten or relax, increasing or reducing blood flow. High CO2 concentrations and heat cause the arteriolar diameter to increase, allowing larger blood flow. High oxygen concentration and cold cause the opposite effect. At normal conditions, about 0.2 to 0.5 liters of blood pass through the skin. But under stress, this can rise up to 8 liters per minute. What this response entails is an increase in cardiac load.

Sweating

We have up to 4 million eccrine sweat glands. Normally, they secrete an extremely filtered version of blood plasma, which is odorless. Exercising or heat changes this. As it is mostly water, which has a specific heat of 4.2 joule per gram, its evaporation releases quite a bit of heat. So what this mechanism requires is greater hydration, or else there is risk of hyperthermia (increase in core body temperature unrelated to fever).

References

This text is a very resumed version of this article: Physiological Responses to the Thermal Environment