As back-to-school quickly approaches, football practices and other fall sports practices are kicking into high gear. With the heat and humidity of August right around the corner, kids always need reminders to prevent heat related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Unfortunately, every summer, there are a few news stories from across the country of middle school and high school students passing away from heat stroke. What are these illnesses and how can we prevent them? That's what will be outlined in this article. I encourage you also to check out this article from Johns Hopkins and this article from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Heat-related illnesses refer to the terms "heat cramps," "heat exhaustion," and "heat stroke." All of them have similar symptoms, but they go from the mild heat cramps, to the moderate heat exhaustion, to the life-threatening heat stroke.
Question: What are symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke?
- Heat Cramps: Painful cramps (especially in the legs), Flushed, moist skin
- Heat Exhaustion: All of above symptoms PLUS Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue, Weakness, Faint Feeling
- Heat Stroke: All of the above PLUS Fever over 104F, Palpitations, Confusion, Agitation, Seizues, Coma, Death
Treatment for heat-related illnesses are similar in that the person should be moved to a cool place and rest. Give cool fluids. Place cool cloths on skin. And, if these treatments are not helping or if more severe symptoms like heat stroke, then take child to the ER immediately, or call 911 immediately.
How can heat stroke be prevented? Drink plenty of fluids, of course. Drink water and sports drinks, and avoid caffeine because this can make dehydration worse. Dress your child in light colored and lightweight clothing, especially on hot days. Teach your child to take frequent drink breaks to avoid becoming overheated.
Thanks also to WKBN-TV for interviewing me on this topic: "Staying Hydrated Throughout Sports Seasons," including the video above.