Preventing Heat Exhaustion
Author: Amadeus Mason, M.D.
Heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes have always been concerns for coaches, athletes and their parents. Each year heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes affect thousands of athletes at all levels and continues to be among the leading causes of preventable sports
injury and death.
What are we talking about? Heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The earlier the intervention, the better the odds of averting a disastrous chain reaction.
What can you do? Stay cool:
- Work out in early morning or late evening.
- Avoid the hottest times of the day.
- Reduce the intensity and duration of your workout.
- Take the time to get into shape before arriving at training camp. Know the climate you are going to and try to get acclimated before getting there.
- Take frequent rests and remove your headgear. The head has an ideal body-mass to surface-area-ratio to maximize heat loss.
- Drink often and drink regularly.
- Do not rely on thirst, by the time you are feeling thirsty, there is already a significant fluid deficit.
- Drink more than just water. When you exert yourself, you lose electrolytes as well as fluid. Replacing the fluid alone (with just water) can lead to electrolyte imbalances. These imbalances can be life-threatening.
- Monitor your urine, it should be the consistency of lemonade, not apple juice.
What to look for?
- Confusion – cannot remember simple things,complete simple/routine tasks.
- Irritability – a change in temperament.
- Belligerence – easily frustrated, compounded by the confusion and irritability.
- Light headedness
- Fatigue – in excess of what would be anticipated. Paradoxical chills – goose bumps and shivering in the face of high environmental temperature (an ominous sign).
If you or someone is exhibiting these symptoms:
- Stop the activity immediately.
- Move to a cool (shaded) area.
- Get some fluid (water, sports drink, IV).
- Contact a health professional or your sportsafety certified coach.
Excerpts taken from article which can be read at: http://sportssafety.org/articles/Index/9