While Texomans aren’t feeling as much heat as our European counterparts this summer, heat related illnesses are still a very big threat to our community! Whether you’re kicking, swimming or biking into the summer, paying attention to the way your body reacts to these toasty Texas temperatures can mean the difference between having fun in the sun and getting some shade in a hospital bed.
Athletic trainer, Jeremy Woodward is no stranger to being on the sidelines watching young athletes play in this hot and humid climate, and says it doesn’t take long for a heat related illnesses to settle in.
“Heat related illness is just that, it’s overdoing it out in the heat,” explained Woodward. “It can range from mild muscle cramping to heat exhaustion all the way to heat stroke-the most severe of heat related illnesses.”
It’s important to also recognize the difference in symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“It can range from mild dehydration which will have some effect on your cognitive thought process: you’ll be a little lethargic and woozy, all the way up to heat stroke where you have loss of consciousness, you no longer perspire or sweat, your body is actually overheating heating itself,” said Woodward.
Other symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Throbbing headache
- Red, hot or dry skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid, shallow breathing
How you treat someone suffering from a heat stroke, is critical to their survival. For example, you don’t want to rush a heat stroke victim into drinking tons of water right away.
Instead, Woodwards says to, “activate EMS as soon as possible, and then get that person, if it’s safe to do so, in a shaded, cool area. We want to try and help rid the body of any heat that its accumulated, so we can do that by putting ice packs in the armpits and groin area and around the neck.”
You can also:
- Check their temperature
- Immerse them in cold water
- Slowly Hydrate
- Give medications to stop the shivering
The risk of getting a heat related illness is also much higher for people who are playing summer sports or training for high endurance events like Hotter N Hell.
“Rarely do we see optimal hydration, we wither see under hydration [not drinking enough] and sometimes we see some overhydration and that kind of throws electrolytes off balance,” said Woodward. “I do like to recommend that athletes try to stay away from real heavy meals prior to workouts. A lot of times, athletes do underutilize sunscreen. Skin protection’s always important not just for the athletes but for the coaches as well.”
Also, we hate to break it to you party goers but Woodward says optimal hydration is not achieved through heavy amounts of energy drinks or alcoholic beverages.
“Those kind of act in reverse of what we want the body to do,” said Woodward.