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Heat intolerance

Definition

Heat intolerance refers to 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

Common 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

Keep room temperature at a comfortable level. Drink plenty of fluids.

Call your health care provider if

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

What to expect at your health care provider's office

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

Medical history questions may include:

  • When do the 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?
  • Do you have palpitations or a rapid pulse (heart rate)?

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. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2011:chap 233.

Winkenwerder W Jr., Sawka MN. Disorders due to heat and cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2011:chap 109.


Review Date: 5/12/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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