Are you suffering from 'heatwave tiredness'? GP reveals signs of new phenomenon | The Sun

IT's widely accepted that hot weather makes you feel a little bit sleepy.

But have your energy levels hit rock bottom during the UK's latest warm spell?

If so, you're certainly not alone.

Social media is flooded with people complaining about feeling sluggish, heavy-eyed and in desperate need of a nap.

According to Dr Zoe Watson, this is because the sun and high temperatures have a huge impact on our bodies.

Our natural cooling mechanism has to work harder, which uses up a lot of energy.


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As a result, we feel more exhausted than normal – and this can continue well after a balmy period has ended.

The locum GP, based in East London, told The Sun: "Our bodies have various mechanisms in place to keep our body temp at a nice, steady 37C.

"When it's hot, our bodies have to work extra hard to cool down.

"Our blood vessels dilate, our heart rate increases to pump blood towards our skin in order to allow more heat to dissipate into the air, and we sweat.

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"All of these automatic mechanisms require an increase in metabolic rate."

On top of this, it's easy to become dehydrated in the heat due to what is known as "insensible losses" – e.g. excess sweating – which can also make us tired, she added.

"All these things together combine to make us feel sluggish and tired when it’s hot."

Dr Rachel Ward, of the Woodlands Medical Centre in Didcot, Oxfordshire, added that a reduced appetite and disrupted sleep can also be major factors for fatigue.

"We tend to eat less in hot weather and we often sleep badly, both of which contribute to our energy levels," she said.

All of these symptoms suggest we are suffering from "heatwave tiredness" – an official term used to describe weather-related drowsiness.

But it's important to discern general warm weather fatigue from something more sinister.

Dr Johannes Uys, a GP working at Broadgate General Practice in London, told The Mirror: "I've seen countless cases where individuals overlook or underestimate the effects of high temperatures on their body, thinking they only have to look out for a sunburn.

"However, it's crucial to be able to distinguish general fatigue from signs of a more serious heat-related condition such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke, especially during the height of the summer season, and to not brush it off as something minor."

Hot weather tiredness

  • Sluggishness
  • Sleepiness
  • Dehydration

Heat exhaustion

  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick or being sick
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Heat rash
  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • Fast breathing or heartbeat
  • High temperature
  • Being very thirsty
  • Weakness


The symptoms are pretty much the same as heat exhaustion, with added confusion, no sweating and loss of consciousness, but heatstroke is a serious medical emergency.

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It happens when the body is unable to control its internal temperature.

In the event of heatstroke, you should move the person to a cooler area and call 999.

How to prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke

THERE'S a high risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke during hot weather or exercise.

To help prevent heat exhaustion or heatstroke:

  • Drink more cold drinks, especially if you're active or exercising
  • Wear light-coloured, loose clothing
  • Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Avoid excess alcohol
  • Avoid extreme exercise
  • If you're inside on a very hot day, close curtains, close windows if it's hotter outside than in your home and turn off electrical equipment and lights that get hot

This will also prevent dehydration and help your body keep itself cool.

Children, older people and people with long-term health conditions (such as diabetes or heart problems) are more at risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Source: NHS

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