Heat Stroke

Heat related illness is a common problem during the hot summer months especially in southern states.  Heat related illness is common in outdoor sports and exercise, but can even happen with normal activity such as walking or sitting in the sun for the very young or elderly.  Heat illnesses results from a combination of high temperatures and inadequate fluid intake.  Heat illnesses occur with exposure to high temperatures for prolonged periods, excessive physical activity, or containment in hot confined spaces (child left in a car).  People can easily become dehydrated with loss of fluids from perspiration and breathing.   There are 3 main heat related illnesses; heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

Heat cramps
Heat cramps are heat related muscle cramps which can cause intense muscle pain. A person with heat cramps should be moved to a cool dry place and then rehydrate with carbohydrate/electrolyte containing sports drink.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion causes heat cramps with headache, weakness,  fatigue and pale, moist skin.  Heat exhaustion can cause fainting, ataxia, incoordination, and profuse sweating.  People with heat exhaustion should be moved to a cool dry place and rehydrated with carbohydrate/electrolyte containing sports drink.  It is important to loosen tight clothing and apply ice to the axilla and groin, and drink cool water.  Cool water sprays and propping the legs up is often beneficial.

Heat stroke
Heat stroke is a very serious, life-treatening condition.  Heat stroke is defined by a body temperature of 104 degrees or higher.  Heat stroke can damage the heat, muschles, kidneys and brain.  Heat stroke has a 10% mortality rate. People with heat stroke are warm to the touch with no visible sweating.  They may have an altered consciousness, coma, convulsions, disorientation, irrational behavior, irritability, confusion, or combativeness.  Confusion, delirium and bizzare behavior are often first signs.  Anyone with concern for a heat stroke should be taking the nearest emergency room immediately.  Cool water sprays, ice bags in the groin, axilla and neck as well as IV fluids or rehydrating with carbohydrate/electrolyte containing sports drink may be helpful while getting to the emergency room. 

Heat Illness Prevention
Prevention of heat related illness takes carefull preparation.  Avoid excessive exercise during hot temperatures.  Stay in the shade or carry an umbrella to create shade.  Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or carbohydrate/electrolyte containing sports drinks.  Fluid replacement is important before, during and after exercise.   Wearing appropriate clothing is also important.  Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing. 

Fluid replacement and hydration
Before exercise: One hour before exercise drink 10-16 ounces of water or a sports drink.
During exercise: drink 4-8 ounces of water or a sports drink every 15-25 minutes during exercise / sports.
After exercise: rehydrate.  For athletes in extreme temperatures or sports it is important to weight yourself before and after exercise.  An athlete that is lighter after exercise/sports has not hydrated well during the activity and has developed a fluid deficit. 

Water vs Sports Drinks
Most commercial available sports drinks contain

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