by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
These heat-related ailments occur when exertion (from exercise) or outside temperature, or both, impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. When the body’s core temperature rises, organ and metabolic damage can occur. But this can be readily avoided, with adequate hydration, and adjustment of physical exertion depending on the outdoor temperature and humidity.
Check out the weather report before your activity. Pay attention to the heat index (increasing humidity that makes it “feel” hotter outside) as well as the temperature. Make sure you hydrate before your activity (an extra 8-10 ounce glass of water is a good start), and bring some ice water along. Make sure to take frequent breaks, and wear light colored and lightweight clothing. Pay special attention to your student-athlete, especially those wearing heavy football gear. School coaches and trainers are well aware of these issues, but remind your child to listen to his/her body.
Are you at risk? If you’re feeling sweaty, and your pulse is racing, pay attention. These are both signs of overheating. Other symptoms can include reddened, hot or dry skin, dizziness, or nausea.
Heat-related illness can be readily avoided with breaks in the shade and plenty of water. Feeling some symptoms? It’s important to cool down quickly - take a cool shower, jump in a cold pool, or spray yourself with a garden hose. Always call your doctor if symptoms persist.