This Is How Extreme Heat Can Kill


Extreme heat has engulfed India in recent weeks with temperatures exceeding 120°F (49°C) in many areas. Thousands have died so far. Doctors and public health experts say the devastation comes as no surprise: when body temperature exceeds 104°F (40°C), heat stroke can cause a number of ailments and often death.

Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention when it hits and should be treated as a medical emergency. If not, it will almost certainly result in death, said Claude Piantadosi a medicine professor at Duke University. But while death comes relatively quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours, the body goes through a number of underlying processes before organs shut down.

Humans sweat when their body temperature rises above its 98.6°F (37°C), the normal body temp. While sweating helps cool the body by taking heat with it as it evaporates, it can only do so much. Without a steady intake of…

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