Heat intolerance

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Definition

Heat intolerance is a feeling of being overheated when the temperature around you rises. It can often cause heavy sweating.

Heat intolerance usually comes on slowly and lasts for a long time, but it may also occur quickly and be a serious illness.

Alternative Names

Sensitivity to heat; Intolerance to heat

Causes

Heat intolerance may be caused by:

  • Amphetamines or other stimulants, such as those found in drugs that suppress your appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Menopause
  • Too much thyroid hormone (thyrotoxicosis)

Home Care

Exposure to extreme heat and sun can cause heat emergencies or illnesses. You can prevent heat illnesses by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Keeping inside room temperatures at a comfortable level
  • Limiting how much time you spend outdoors in hot, humid weather

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have unexplained heat intolerance.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.

Your provider may ask you questions like these:

  • When do your symptoms occur?
  • Have you had heat intolerance before?
  • Is it worse when you exercise?
  • Do you have vision changes?
  • Are you dizzy or fainting?
  • Do you have sweating or flushing?
  • Do you have numbness or weakness?
  • Is your heart beating fast, or do you have a rapid pulse?

Tests that may be performed include:

  • Blood studies
  • Thyroid studies (TSH, T3, free T4)

References

Kim M, Ladenson P. Thyroid. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 226.

Sawka MN, O'Connor FG. Disorders due to heat and cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 109.

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