Beat the Heat: Tips and Tools to Prevent Heat Illness
Knowing how to recognize the signs of heat illness, the best course of action for treatment and the proper way to hydrate can make all the difference. Follow these tips from American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine to make sure you stay cool as the temperatures heat up!
What are the Symptoms of Heat Illness?
- Dark colored urine
- Dry mouth
If heat illness progresses, more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, body temperature increasing to dangerous levels, muscle cramps, nausea, tingling of the limbs—and even death—may occur.
How Can Heat Illness be Prevented?
- Proper training for the heat
- Fluid replacement before, during and after exertion
- Appropriate clothing—light colored, loose fitting and limited to one layer
- Early recognition via direct monitoring of athletes by coaches and medical staff
- Monitoring the intensity of physical activity appropriate for the athlete’s acclimatization status
- Utilizing your Orthopedic ONE Sports Medicine Team to properly prevent and treat heat illnesses
How Can Heat Illness be Treated?
When you see any signs of heat illness or heat stroke, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the individual at risk.
Treatment tips include:
- Getting the athlete to a shaded area
- If it is heat stroke, cool the athlete rapidly using cold water from a hose, sponge or placing cold towels over the entire body
- Monitoring body temperature
- Providing cool beverages if possible (i.e., if the athlete does not have altered consciousness)
- Getting medical assistance as soon as possible
When Should an Athlete Hydrate?
- Hydration should begin before embarking on any type strenuous physical activity
- Aim to drink 16 ounces of water or a sports drink one hour before exertion
- Continue hydrating with 4-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes throughout your workout
- The type of fluid replacement depends on the duration of the event
- Plain water is adequate for events lasting less than one hour
- For training sessions lasting more than one hour or multiple bouts of exercise in the same day, replace water with a sports drink, which will provide necessary amounts of carbohydrates, sodium and potassium
- Weighing oneself before and after activity provides good feedback on the level of hydration
- If the athlete is lighter after an activity, then it is likely a fluid deficit has occurred and it’s necessary to replace the weight loss by drinking more during the next workout to approximate sweat loss
- An athlete who loses more than two percent to three percent of their body weight during exercise may be at a point of compromising performance and physiological function
- If the athlete gains weight after an activity, then the quantity of rehydration fluid during activity should be reduced
While these hydration guidelines are great to keep in mind, it is important to know YOUR body’s needs! Some people are “thirsty” runners. If you know you generally sweat a lot, stay on top of your fluid consumption. This may include carrying your own water as you train, alternating water with a sports drink or even utilizing salt tabs. On the other hand, overdoing it and drinking too much can cause an athlete to develop hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in the blood is too low. Ideally, this trial and error needs to happen during the training cycle to ensure that you are at your optimum hydration level on Race Day!
If you have specific questions regarding heat illness and hydration, you can connect with an Orthopedic ONE clinician via the Healthy Roster app or the Orthopedic ONE Sports Medicine Hotline. Click here to download instructions for both features…help is just a tap or a call away!
Orthopedic ONE is the largest private orthopedic surgery practice in the state of Ohio and represents a group of 60 of the region's top orthopedic experts with one mission: To make each and every patient our number ONE priority. Our team of physicians, therapists and trainers provide orthopedic, injury prevention and rehabilitation services to some of the most elite professional organizations in central Ohio, as well as collegiate, high school and club programs. Our goal is to keep athletes out of our office and back to doing the activities they love.
We invite you to learn more by visiting www.orthopedicONE.com