Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Preventing Heat Illness During Athletics This Fall

By Kelli Martinez, MD, Austin

Pediatric resident physician in her second year at The University of Texas Dell Medical School
Member, Texas Medical Association

Playing sports is good for young athletes because it improves their social skills, overall health, and school performance. However, as student-athletes return to school and practice while Texas’ extreme heat lingers from summer, they need to be cautious, and aware. There is a condition called exertional heatstroke that is easily prevented, yet young athletes still get very sick and even die from it each year.

Teen athletes can lose a large amount of water during practice and games. Doing so can affect their performance and could lead to heatstroke. It is important for the athlete to know warning signs of heat-related injury.

High school football players hydrate during practice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics set the following guidelines to prepare for exercise in heat and decrease the risk of heat-related injury.

Conditions that can contribute to heat illness during sports activities:

Heat and humidity;
Too much physical exertion too quickly, and not working up to getting the body used to it;
Wearing uniforms or equipment not made of breathable material;
Not drinking enough water before, during, and after practice or games;
Not being in shape;
Not getting enough sleep;
Not enough rest between same-day practices or games; 
Overweight/obesity; and
Current or recent illness and other conditions (or medications) that affect hydration status.

Recommendations to help avoid heat-related injury:

Athletes should be well prepared before participating in outdoor activities. Good hydration, good nutrition, and good fitness are most important.
Water and other fluids should be readily available and consumed during practice and games.
Athletes/coaches should limit time outside as much as possible, or change outdoor activity to be less intense:
  • Decrease length of practice,
  • Increase time and number of water breaks,
  • Wear as little gear as is safe for sport, and
  • Move practice/games to a cooler time of day.
A written emergency plan should be in place and practiced ahead of time for all games/practices.

Recognize the warning signs of heat-related injury:

Early recognition and treatment can decrease the severity of heat-related injury.
Possible signs of heat-related injury that should be reported immediately to coaches, trainers, or observers:

  • Exertional heat cramps: Athletes are sweating very heavily and describe muscle twitching that will develop into stronger muscle spasm. 
  • Heat exhaustion: Symptoms include weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, elevated body temperature, and fainting. 
  • Exertional heatstroke: An extreme condition that includes confusion and seizures, and involves multiple body systems — and potentially, multi-organ failure.

If an athlete has any of the above symptoms, this is considered a medical emergency. 

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...