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Doctors Warn Tri-State Area Residents About Falling Victim To 'Heat Rage'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The temperature isn't the only thing getting hot these days. If you've been outside, you may have noticed tempers are flaring.

As CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Thursday, the hot weather does a lot to our behavior.

There's road rage, air rage, fan rage at sporting events, and now we have heat rage. It's not new. It's actually part of our language. Tempers flare, anger simmers and boils over, and of course there's the proverbial hothead.

Gomez took to the 98-degree streets Thursday to measure the mood of New Yorkers.

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"I'm agitated right now! I'm trying to go and bumping into people. I can't do it! Y'all can have the heat! I'm staying indoors,' said Teirra Francis of Manhattan.

Doctors Warn Tri-State Area Residents About Falling Victim To 'Heat Rage'

"Oh yeah, I've seen people get irritated. Of course! Everyone gets a little cranky in the heat sometimes,' added Kate Johnson of upstate New York.

New Yorkers can be a, shall we say, prickly group. But a five-day heat wave has left some nerves a bit frayed. Scientific studies on the effect of heat on behavior have been mixed, but ask anyone on the hot streets and they know what it does to people.

"Dealing with other people's crankiness was the challenge," said Steven Adams of Queens.

"She gets cranky, I get happy," Scott Paul of Florida said.

It's not surprising that we get cranky in the heat. Dehydration affects the brain and disrupts our sleep, both of which darken our mood. And when you're uncomfortable for any reason, be it heat, cold, getting soaked in the rain, back pain; we tend to perceive things in a more negative way.

"The combination of those biological factors and psychological factors mean that if an environmental, kind of an ordinary event like waiting outside online or getting stuck in a traffic jam or having to change your tire, it can fill your capacity and you can erupt. And so people have frayed nerves and shortened tempers and that's why someone can just bump you walking along the streets and all of a sudden you're overreacting," said Dr. Alan Manevitz of New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Manevitz said the same things you do to keep from overheating will also help you keep your cool: Stay in air conditioning, drink plenty of water and, "avoid situations that generally irritate you and these types of situations might make your blow your cool."

And recognize that people around you may also be a bit testy. Heat also increases testosterone production, which can increase aggression, Gomez reported.

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