Why Your Head Feels Hot and How Dehydration Relates
Warmth is often associated with positive emotions and feelings of emotional attachment. But what if your head feels hot? And what if your head feels hot but you don't have a fever? Should you seek medical advice? Even if you’re not experiencing it every day, a head that feels unusually warm can make it difficult to get anything done.
Your head may be feeling hot for a variety of reasons. If you’ve been experiencing this debilitating symptom for a while now, we’ve got you. Keep reading as we explore possible causes of a head that feels hot and how dehydration relates.
A Quick Look at How Your Body Regulates Heat
You may have noticed specific triggers every time your head feels hot. To make things more perplexing, the rest of your body isn't hot at all. Before we dig deeper into why your head feels hot, let's take a look at how your body regulates its core temperature.
The wonderful aspect of the human body is it can self-regulate and maintain balance. This process is called homeostasis. Maintaining your core temperature is one of your body’s homeostatic regulations (also known as thermoregulation) going on in your body day in and day out. The hypothalamus in your brain is responsible for it. It acts as your body's thermostat, and it knows what your average body temperature should be. In a nutshell, it tells the rest of the body what to do to maintain this specific body temperature.
For example, when the weather's warmer than usual, the hypothalamus tells your sweat glands to produce more sweat to cool down. As you sweat, your body returns to its ideal body temperature.
However, there are specific scenarios when your hypothalamus and the rest of the body can't keep up with the rise of external temperature in your body. As a result, your body will experience a host of symptoms — a head that feels hot is one of these.
The hot days of summer, wearing many layers, engaging in extremely physical activities, certain medical conditions, eating spicy foods, and dehydration are possible reasons why your body may have trouble regulating its core temperature.
For example, as you're exposed to higher temperatures, your head may feel warm. Consequently, you may experience dehydration headaches.
When this happens, your body needs more fluids to help it cool down. However, water alone isn't enough if you're dehydrated. Your body needs the perfect balance of sodium and glucose to help absorption and relieve dehydration.
Why Your Head Feels Hot: Some Causes to Consider
A head that feels hot without an apparent reason like fever can sometimes be a sign of the following:
1. Certain Food and Drinks
You may feel hotter than usual and feel warmer in the head when you consume particular food and drinks.
For example, large amounts of alcohol and caffeine can make you pee more, resulting in fluid loss and dehydration. As a result, your body may overheat and work double time to keep itself cool. Eating hot peppers is another excellent example. Certain varieties of pepper can enhance heat production in the body.
2. Hot Flashes
As part of menopause, women may experience hot flashes. A hot flash feels like a quick burst of heat radiating from the head, neck, face, and chest. The exact cause of hot flashes during menopause in women is unknown. However, it seems like it has to do with changes in the brain’s ability to regulate the core body temperature. These changes are likely influenced by fluctuations of hormones in the body, particularly estrogen levels.
Aside from a head that feels hot during an episode of a hot flash, other common symptoms of menopause include irregular periods, night sweats, thinning hair, and vaginal dryness. Hot flashes as part of menopause will tend to resolve after five years. It’s also worth noting that hot flashes can occur during perimenopause or the period when a woman transitions to menopause.
The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping up with your regular visits with your doctor for preventive care and screening for potential health problems.
3. An Overactive Thyroid
A medical condition called hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is another possible reason why your head feels hot.
Your thyroid produces thyroid hormones, which are mainly responsible for how fast your body uses up energy. When you have an overactive thyroid, your body is in “overheated” mode. Feeling unusually warm, sweating, and having a head that feels hot also signal that your thyroid gland is on overdrive. As a result, you experience a host of symptoms like unintentional weight loss, higher than normal heart rate, heat intolerance, excessive sweating, and hand tremors.
Medications help address an overactive thyroid. If you think you have hyperthyroidism, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.
4. Heat-Related Illnesses
When you have heat exhaustion or suffer from heat stroke, your body has difficulty maintaining its core temperature. As a result, the excess heat in your body will lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, heavy sweating, fatigue, and even fainting.
These heat-related conditions result from prolonged exposure to hot weather, high humidity, overdressing, alcohol consumption, and dehydration.
Groups at risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion are:
People over the age of 60
Individuals with certain health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases
Heat exhaustion treatment and management typically involve:
Moving to a cooler, shaded area
Having a cool bath
Taking off extra layers of clothing
CDC.gov advocates for air conditioning as protection against heat-related illnesses.
A heat stroke is a medical emergency. If a family member or a co-worker is complaining of a head that feels hot and other heat stroke symptoms such as dizziness, seizures, confusion, fever, and fainting (a common heat stroke sign in the elderly), call emergency care immediately.
Dehydration and a Head That Feels Hot
Dehydration is when there are not enough fluids and electrolytes in your body. These fluids and electrolytes are vital to critical bodily functions. For example, blood vessels in the brain may contract when you’re dehydrated, resulting in dehydration headaches and a head that feels hot.
Apart from a headache, dehydration symptoms include:
Aches and pains
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following as the top causes of dehydration:
Not getting enough fluids
Diarrhea and vomiting
Certain medications like diuretics and blood pressure-lowering drugs can also have dehydration as a side effect.
Risks of Dehydration
Groups at risk include older adults, infants and children, people with chronic conditions, and people who engage in work or strenuous activities outside.
Children are also more likely to experience heat exhaustion because their body surface area makes up a more significant proportion of their overall body weight. Simply put, it takes more time for dry heat to dissipate in children’s bodies. Also, they have lower sweating rates than adults.
Adults over 60, individuals with chronic medical conditions, and people working outdoors are at risk because of their body’s inability to adapt to changes in body temperature quickly.
Lastly, drinking beverages containing alcohol and caffeine are diuretics which can increase the risk of dehydration due to increased fluid loss.
Crush Dehydration With DripDrop
Hormonal fluctuations, thyroid problems, or heat-related disorders like heat exhaustion and heat stroke are possible causes of a head that feels hot. If your head feels warmer recently and you have other accompanying symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help. A doctor can work with you in figuring out the root cause and provide more health information.
If dehydration is the reason your head feels hot, a few cooling measures can make it more manageable. These include a cool bath, air conditioning, and avoiding beverages with alcohol and caffeine. You should also increase your body’s fluid volume with an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop. It supplies vitamins like zinc, potassium, and magnesium which are essential to support your overall health as well.
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