Summer Heat and Anger: Cooling Off

Summer Heat and Anger: Cooling Off

Houston Texas had its first heat Summer Heat and Anger wave of this season during the week of June 6, 2012. It is interesting that the violence rate spiked during that week as well. It raises the question: is there a correlation between hot weather and anger/violence? After research, we determined there is a correlation and it is more physiological than sociological.

Summer Heat and Anger – Hyperthermia

In the article Hyperthermia and heat related illness,” S. Doerr refers to the overheating of the body as “hyperthermia.” Summer Heat and Anger ( The term literally means “high heat.” Conditions that occur from exposure to high heat conditions range from heat rash to life-threatening heat stroke. A Summer Heat and Anger can raises the incidence rate of hyperthermia.

Hyperthermia occurs when the cooling system of the body is overwhelmed. The body produces sweat and as the sweat evaporates it cools the body. When this system is overwhelmed hyperthermia can occur. There are several factors involved in the body response. For instance, high humidity conditions can prevent the effectiveness of the body cooling system. Also age and health are factors. Finally, the use of pharmaceuticals and/or alcohol has a profound effect upon the body cooling system. Doerr says those most susceptible to hyperthermia include:

  • infants and children up to four years of age
  • people 65 years of age or older
  • people who are overweight
  • people who overexert during work or exercise
  • people who are ill or on certain medications
  • People under the influence of alcohol or drugs

According to J. Lepock in the article “Cellular effects of hyperthermia: relevance to the minmum dose for thermal damage,” when hyperhermia occurs the body sustains nerve damage and/or cellular damage.

Dangerous Temperatures in Houston and other Cities

Summer Heat and AngerThe normal body temperature is 98.7° (Fahrenheit) or 37.05° (Celsius). Hyperthermia is defined by Yekaterina & Diringer in the article “Temperature management in acute neurologic disorders” as a temperature greater than 37.5–38.3 °C (100–101 °F). The higher the body temperature, usually greater than 40° C, there is profound damage to the central nervous system and this will result in behavioral, physiological, and neuropathological consequences, says Dietrich & Bramlett in the article “Hyperthermia and central nervous system injury.” Summer Heat and Anger is a reality that can be managed thankfully, the body demonstrates symptoms of hyperthermia. According to Kasper, et al., these include:

hot, dry skin, nausea,vomiting,headaches,low blood pressure,fainting,dizziness,confused or hostile, and seems intoxicated,Increased irritability,increased heart and respiration rate,pale or bluish skin,seizures (especially young children),unconsciousness and coma

If, and when any of these symptoms appear it is time to take remedial efforts.

<strong>Hyperthermia- </strong>Summer Heat and Anger

Hyperthermia- Summer Heat and Anger

Hyperthermia has a profound effect upon the hypothalamus, according to Kasper, et. al. The hypothalamus is the site in the brain that receives and processes external stimuli. If the thalamus is damaged, the processing of stimuli will be faulty. This results in faulty processing by the other brain structures involved in processing emotional responses. The most frequently produced emotional response is anger. Anger then has a direct correlation to hyperthermia. This is vital to know because an increase in heat can result in an increase in anger/violence.


According to Doerr, This awareness means we need to be prepared to exercise relief from oppressive heat conditions. Some of these relief efforts include:

  • taking frequent rest breaks
  • staying hydrated
  • remaining aware of your body heat
  • avoiding the use of alcohol and/or certain medicines/drugs

In prolonged exposure, there may be a need for mechanical cooling systems such as air conditioners or personal cooling units.

Clearly, hot oppressive weather conditions pose a threat to our health and our personal safety. Also Summer Heat and Anger is a combination to avoid. Knowing the symptoms and relief responses in high heat conditions may be the difference between life and death.

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Summer Heat and Anger