Triple-digit insanity and our city’s surprising defense
Wed, Aug 10, 2011 (4:27 p.m.)
Comedian Steven Wright once asked: “If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” Were you trapped in that heat, your brain sizzling like an egg on a skillet, you might do more than wave. You might strip naked and run in circles, punch someone in the teeth or notice the cartoon sun on your Raisin Bran box is speaking Yiddish.
Such symptoms are on the less-serious end of heatstroke, the most severe strain of heat illness. According to WebMD’s Medscape, heatstroke happens when the body’s core temperature exceeds 106 degrees, meaning the sufferer literally starts to cook. This is your brain on summer.
To a seasoned Las Vegan, triple-digit misery is familiar and generally combated with relative ease. But when dramatic highs are brought on by heat waves, temperature spikes can be deadly. Just shy of deadly is heat-induced crazy—think severe irrationality and delusions not associated with drugs, hormones or being Charlie Sheen.
A recent Slate article explored potential ties between extreme heat and seasonal swells in violent crime, long-term personality changes and increased rates of suicide and hospital admissions for mental disorders. But we’re not defenseless, according to Medscape. Apparently, the body combats heat threats through acclimatization, a process of gradual adjustment that boosts natural coping mechanisms over seven to 10 days. Finally! A medically viable reason to vacation in Las Vegas for a whole week and sweat unabashedly through those hideous golf pants.