There are many types of heat injury, ranging from mild heat cramps to life-threatening heat stroke. Children and adults are active during summer. The heat is here now, proper precautions should be taken.
When we exercise, our bodies our bodies heat up. Our bodies react to the increased heat by sweating. The evaporating sweat cools our body. As we perspire, we lose necessary body fluids. If we do not replace these fluids, we become dehydrated. This makes it difficult to sweat and cool down, which can result in a heat injury. During regular exercise, 70 to 90 percent of the energy our bodies produce is released by heat. Many factors can hinder heat release and perspiration. These include: • Environment. Air temperature, combined with humidity, wind speed, and sun affect how well our bodies cool themselves. Humidity influences how easily sweat can evaporate. High humidity (greater than 60%) makes sweat evaporation very difficult. High humidity levels are common in this area. • Clothing. Dark clothing absorbs heat. This can dramatically increase the chance of heat stress. Full body clothing, heavy pads, and helmets make cooling more difficult. • Sun exposure. Direct exposure to the sun with no available shade can increase your core body temperature. • Fitness level/acclimatization. Before exercising in the heat, persons should be in good physical condition. They also need to give their bodies’ time to adjust to warmer temperatures. • Age. Children adjust to heat more slowly than adults. Their bodies are less effective at regulating body heat. • Dehydration. Even mild levels of dehydration (3-5% of body weight) can result in heat illness. If you have not had enough fluids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation.
There are different types of heat illnesses based on the degree of seriousness. Heat Cramps and Heat Syncope are the mildest form. Heat Exhaustion is a moderately serious form of heat illness. Heat Stroke is the most serious form and is a true medical emergency.
Dr. Hinton recommends following the guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons to prevent heat illness. • See a doctor before starting a new exercise activity. Discuss recent illnesses or medications that could cause dehydration. Cardiac or pulmonary conditions can also contribute to heat injury. • Take time to adapt to a new activity or climate. Coaches should plan pre-season conditioning programs. These should be held during weather conditions similar to a typical practice. • Increase the intensity and duration of your exercise program gradually. If you participate in sports that require protective equipment, avoid wearing it at the start of training. • Allow frequent periods of rest and hydration during activity. Fluid replacement is essential to preventing heat injury. • Make sure you are well hydrated before, during, and after exercise. Replace your fluids, whether you feel thirsty or not. • A general recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercise. Drinking an additional 8-ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise is also helpful. While you are exercising, break for at least an 8 oz. cup of water every 20 minutes. • Monitor the color of your urine. The darker your urine, the less hydrated you are and the greater your risk for heat injury. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine a very light color. • Weigh yourself before and after activity to monitor water loss. Make sure you have replaced fluids before your next exercise session. • Gradually increase activity in the heat over a period of 7 to10 days to allow adequate acclimatization. • Wear light-weight and light-colored clothing. • Protect against sun exposure with sunscreen. • Schedule outdoor exercise at the coolest time of day, either early morning or after sunset. • Routinely monitor changing weather conditions. Pay close attention to temperature and humidity on playing surfaces (indoor/outdoor). • Strongly consider postponing or cancelling your activity when there are extreme heat and humidity conditions.
Adhering to these guidelines can keep you having fun and out of the Doctors office!