Over the last 24 days many individuals enjoying their favorite active living activities have been especially susceptible to heat-related illness such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke while exercising in this hot weather. With more above normal temps predicted in the coming weeks most serious heat illness in athletes can be prevented by following some basic guidelines and heeding the warning signs and symptoms. However, if these warning signs are ignored, they may progress into a life-threatening heat emergency.
Common Heat-Related Illness:
Adequate fluid intake is essential for athletes before, during, and after exercise. Whether to use sports drinks or just water depends upon your duration and intensity of exercise.
• Sunburn, is reddening of the skin that occurs after you are exposed to the sun or other ultraviolet light. The first signs of a sunburn may not appear for a few hours. The full effect to your skin may not appear for 24 hours or longer. Possible symptoms include: Red, tender skin that is warm to touch; Blisters that develop hours to days later; Severe reactions (sometimes called "sun poisoning"), including fever, chills, nausea, or rash; and Skin peeling on sunburned areas several days after the sunburn.
• Heat cramps, are painful muscles spasms that occur in the arms, legs, or abdomen that usually occur after several hours of exertion in the heat. In addition to muscle cramps, other symptoms of heat cramps may include faintness, dizziness, weakness, and excessive sweating. Usually an athlete suffers from heat cramps after several hours of exertion and excessive sweating that results in dehydration.
• Heat rash, is typically seen in young children or infants, but it can occasionally occur in athletes who sweat while exercising in hot and humid conditions. This skin irritation looks like any other rash, but is caused by blocked sweat ducts that become red, irritated and itchy. When perspiration can't escape through the sweat glands, little red bumps and even blisters develop. This rash can be itchy or prickly and is sometimes called "prickly heat." It commonly occurs where two body parts rub together, such as the inner thighs.
• Heat exhaustion, Athletes are especially prone to heat exhaustion and other heat illness, such as heat stroke and dehydration, when exercising in hot and humid conditions. Taking precautions and recognizing the symptoms or early warning signs of heat exhaustion is essential if you exercise in hot weather.
• Heat stroke, Even the most highly conditioned athletes can become victims of heat stroke if they don't take special precautions when exercising in hot, humid weather. Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related conditions and it should be treated as a medical emergency.
• Hyponatremia, also called water intoxication, is generally the result of drinking excessive amounts of plain water which causes a low concentration of sodium in the blood. Once a rare occurrence at sporting events, it is becoming more prevalent as participation increases and more novice exercisers are entering endurance events. Prolonged and excessive sweating increases the risk that an athlete will alter the delicate balance of blood-sodium concentration. Because sodium is lost in sweat it is important for those exercising at high intensities for long periods of time to replace any loses.
You Can Prevent These Heat Related Illnesses:
2. Replace Lost Electrolytes
3. Wear Appropriate Clothing
4. Use Sunscreen and Avoid Sunburn
5. Acclimate to the Heat
6. Use Common Sense Avoid hot foods, alcohol and heavy foods that increase your core temperature. If you feel any headaches, fatigue or irritability or notice your exercise performance decreasing, stop exercising and cool off.
Remember, it is easier to prevent heat illness than to treat it once symptoms develop.
Article Published: 07-23-2012