Why This Hot Weather Is Bad for You ... Beyond the Painfully Obvious

Amy Kuras

sunWe've been in the grip of a brutally hot and humid summer here in the Midwest, and I know my friends on the East Coast have been suffering through it too. And some of you people, like in the Deep South, live like this all the time! I hate the heat and personally, I will happily take our coldest, slushiest winter day because of our mild springs and (usually) gorgeous and temperate summers.

The heat isn't just bad for your hair and skin (and temper, in my case); hot weather is unhealthy for your lungs.

One of the biggest culprits, ozone, is formed when certain chemicals are exposed to heat and sunlight. The more ozone, the harder it is to breathe. Your lungs are actually as delicate as the inside of your eyelids. Picture exposing them to this bad-quality air the heat is producing and you can imagine how irritating it is for your lungs. Fine particles  also fill the air from coal-fired power plants, which are churning at full capacity day and night to keep up with our air conditioners.

Air pollution is really dangerous to older people and those with lung and heart problems. Tens of thousands of them die each year from it. It's also tough on kids, because they run around more and breathe more frequently, which causes them to be exposed to a lot of pollution relative to their body size. I know my friends with asthma are really suffering now, too.

Even young, healthy adults can suffer, big time, from the poor air quality triggered by heat and humidity. Doctors say if your eyes are irritated or your lungs are burning, stop what you're doing and head inside.

In my part of the world, it's supposed to cool down later this week. Have you been suffering in the heat this summer?

Image via Kevin Dooley/Flickr


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