Why are we not all equal in the face of high heat?

Why are we not all equal in the face of high heat?

Sweat profusely or stay more or less cool? Faced with a heat wave, we do not all react the same way, due to several genetic and personal factors. Dr Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens, explains it to us.

As the hottest week of summer falls on Europe, one thing is clear: we do not all experience the heat in the same way! Some are swimming in the morning, while others are more resistant to high temperatures. A difference that is based on several data.

Differences of genetic and geographical origin

“We are not equal in our body’s reactions to heat, this is due to geographical and genetic data” advance before all Dr. Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens. Generations that have lived in Africa for example, or in very hot countries have gradually adapted to the heat. Their physiology and genetics have evolved.”

This is why black skin, for example, is more resistant to UV. The mechanisms of perspiration, the resistance to perspiration are not the same either according to the families. A natural adaptation, which is transmitted in the genes, from generation to generation. Thus, depending on the genes too, the very feeling of heat will not be the same from one person to another.

Inequality between men and women

Women would also suffer more from the heat, without this coming from a “weakness” for all that. “There is probably a hormonal phenomenon, also linked to the menstrual cycle, and a higher core temperature in women that makes them less resistant to high heat. But there is also a phenomenon related to weight: the weight of women being generally lower than that of men, they warm up more quickly” explains our doctor.

Moreover, according to a 2015 study, thermal comfort varies according to gender. The ideal room temperature would be 22 to 24° for men and 24.5 to 26° for women. A difference of 2 degrees all the same!

Health status also matters

Another factor of inequality in the face of heat is directly based on people’s state of health. “Thus, fragile or sick people will not be able to adapt their heart rate or have good vasodilation of the vessels, the possibility that the vessels open to allow heat to leave the body. explains our expert. They are therefore directly impacted by the increase in temperatures, which can even be dangerous for them.

Remember also that the elderly and babies have fewer sweat glands to sweat and adapt to heat waves in particular.

Social inequality, a risk factor that should not be overlooked

Finally, Dr. Kierzek points to one last inequality that is felt in periods of high heat: social inequality. “Disability, isolation, difficulties in accessing care and less access to information are all factors that can also increase the risks associated with heat. And unfortunately make this situation even more painful for the people concerned.

Good gestures for all

Currently under yellow orange and red heatwave vigilance, Europe is undergoing a week of extreme heat. Health authorities point out that the elderly, disabled or isolated are more vulnerable.

In order to limit the risks, it is therefore advisable to:

  • Remember to drink water regularly;
  • Avoid outings and physical exertion during the hottest hours of the day;
  • Close the shutters and curtains of windows exposed to the sun;
  • Take news of his most fragile loved ones.

If unusual symptoms occur (cramps, sudden fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headaches, etc.), do not hesitate to contact 15.