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When the surrounding temperature is higher than body temperature (37 degrees celsius) your blood vessels start to dilate and come closer to the surface of the skin. This is so more blood reaches the surface of your body to allow you to lose heat easily. This is why you appear to go red. Additionally, you sweat to release heat by evaporation.

When the surrounding temperature is below your body temperature you blood vessels will constrict, causing less blood to reach the surface of your body, so less heat is lost in this way. You will also 'shiver' which is the muscles contracting which releases heat energy to warm you up!

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15y ago
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13y ago

For Cold, your body will first reduce the blood flow near the surface of the body.

This thickens the blood, and this is why you want to pee when you get cold, for the excess water is pushed into the bladder.

The next defence is shivering, as an automatic response to trying to generate some heat by exercise. This will be accompanied by 'goose bumps' and the raising of hairs on the arm etc; again an attempt to keep air circulation to a minimum near the skin. (Probably more effective when we had fur!)

Those are some of the early automatic responses to cold.

Beyond this, hypothermia symptoms appear, but these are better studied elsewhere.

For Heat, the first response is to produce a film of sweat. This is most effective when it is a very thin film - when there are just small individual beads. When the skin becomes wet, the rate of heat loss is lowered.

This phase is followed by a desire to minimise exercise, and a conscious recognition of being too hot. One will seek shade or cool places.

A little fluid is helpful, for it helps thin the blood and increase the circulation.

But more fluid than that is not necessary, other than to control thirst and to replace lost fluid.

Beyond this, the body goes to extreme measures to get the skin cool. The circulation will speed up, and the skin will appear a bright pink.

This is hyperthermia and is dangerous, as it is a signal that the automatic systems are no longer enough. Their sweating mechanisms may well stop and the skin be hot and dry! Their electrolyte balance will be impaired.

Put the patient in the shade, and sponge the body surface to aid temperature reduction. If practical, call for assistance.

I have kept away from numbers as these are unlikely to be available in the field.

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12y ago

You will die

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Q: What happens to your body when you are exposed to temperature extremes?
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