Does Your Heart Race When Sick?

Have you ever noticed that your heart rate increases when you’re feeling sick? You’re not alone. Many people experience an elevated heart rate during illness. In this article, we will explore the relationship between sickness and heart rate.

What Happens to Your Heart Rate When You’re Sick?

When your body is fighting off an illness, your heart is working harder than usual. This increased workload can cause your heart rate to speed up. Your heart rate may also increase due to a fever, which is a common symptom of many illnesses. A fever causes your heart to beat faster as it works to pump blood through your body and regulate your temperature.

The Role of Inflammation

In addition to a fever, inflammation can also cause your heart rate to increase when you’re sick. When your immune system is fighting an infection, it releases chemicals that cause inflammation. This inflammation can affect your heart, leading to an elevated heart rate.

Dehydration and Heart Rate

Dehydration can also cause your heart rate to increase when you’re sick. When you’re dehydrated, your blood volume decreases, which means your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. This increased workload can cause your heart rate to increase.

Is an Elevated Heart Rate Dangerous?

An elevated heart rate during illness is usually not dangerous. In fact, it’s a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. However, if your heart rate is consistently high or you have a pre-existing heart condition, an elevated heart rate could be a cause for concern.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If your heart rate is consistently high or you are experiencing other symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, it’s important to seek medical attention. These could be signs of a serious heart condition or a complication related to your illness.

Ways to Lower Your Heart Rate During Illness

If you’re experiencing an elevated heart rate during illness, there are a few things you can do to help lower it.

Rest and Hydration

Resting and staying hydrated can help reduce inflammation and lower your heart rate. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever or are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

Cooling Techniques

Cooling techniques such as taking a cool bath or using a cool compress can help reduce a fever and lower your heart rate.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises can help calm your body and lower your heart rate. Try taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Conclusion

An elevated heart rate during illness is a common occurrence. It’s usually not dangerous and is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. However, if you have a pre-existing heart condition or your heart rate is consistently high, it’s important to seek medical attention. Rest, hydration, and cooling techniques can help lower your heart rate during illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does your heart rate increase when you have a cold?
  • Yes, your heart rate can increase when you have a cold due to your body working harder to fight off the infection.

  • Can dehydration cause an elevated heart rate during illness?
  • Yes, dehydration can cause an elevated heart rate during illness due to decreased blood volume.

  • When is it important to seek medical attention for an elevated heart rate?
  • If your heart rate is consistently high or you are experiencing other symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, it’s important to seek medical attention.

  • Can deep breathing exercises help lower your heart rate during illness?
  • Yes, deep breathing exercises can help lower your heart rate during illness by calming your body.

References

1. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020, September 1). When your heart skips a beat: The headrush of standing up. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/when-your-heart-skips-a-beat-the-headrush-of-standing-up

2. Mayo Clinic. (2021, April 20). Dehydration. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086

3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Fever treatment. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/fever-treatment

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