Preparation key to beating the heat

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Athletes need to be cautious, stay hydrated in hot weather

With temperatures expected to climb into the mid-90s next week and the heat index to make them feel like 100, athletes need to prepare themselves now.

For some individuals, working outside or participating in summer sports camps is unavoidable. In these cases, extreme caution and care should be taken to ensure that an individual doesn't succumb to the extreme elements.

Most health professionals state that the average human needs 64 ounces of water daily to perform at normal levels.

For the weekend warrior and student athlete, caution must be used to ensure proper hydration.

"Some people will get up in the morning, weigh and then start their workout routine," explained Greg Gilmore, Cox Monett Hospital's athletic training coordinator. "When those individuals weigh in a couple hours later they might see as much as two to three pounds of weight loss. However, that weight loss is really water loss and not burned fat. The water needs to be replaced."

Gilmore explained that as a person perspires, the body loses more than just water.

"Your body sweats out vitamins, sugars, electrolytes and salt," Gilmore said. "If you have ever looked at the band inside a baseball hat that has been worn a lot, you can see the sediment deposits. As a person loses these minerals, if they are not replaced, the individual becomes more susceptible to heat-related illness and dehydration."

Products like Gatorade, Powerade and Vitamin Water are recommended to help fight dehydration.

There are three categories of dehydration that include: Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

"A person doesn't have to start at one stage and progress to the others," Gilmore said. "You could jump straight to heat stroke."

Each category of dehydration has its own warning signs:

* Heat cramps: Warning signs include muscle cramping, a sick feeling to one's stomach and joint pain. An individual who suffers from this condition needs to stop whatever activity they are involved, stretch and massage the area and drink cold fluids.

* Heat exhaustion: Warning signs include a body temperature of up to 102 degrees, pale complexion, chills and loss of appetite. It is important to note that these conditions are not life threatening at this stage but must be dealt with immediately to prevent further progression. A person suffering from these symptoms needs to stop and remove pads or socially acceptable clothing, get to a cool place and push liquids. If the condition is extreme enough and medical attention may be needed.

* Heat stroke: A heat stroke is deemed a medical emergency. Its symptoms include body temperatures in excess of 104 degrees, loss of appetite, loss of consciousness.

"A person who reaches the stroke stage is in grave danger," Gilmore said. "At a body temperature of 105 degrees, brain damage starts to occur. An individual suffering from heat stroke must be cooled immediately to get the body's core temperature down. Medical attention is needed."

Gilmore does have some practical advice to beat the heat.

* Keep a cool wet cloth, ice pack or cool pack near to help cool down.

* Start exercise routines or activities earlier in the day.

* Get plenty of rest, allowing the body a chance to recover from the heat.

* Drink lots of fluids. Staying hydrated is key.

"Heat-related illnesses are totally preventable," Gilmore said. "The key is for a person to recognize the warning signs and to take preventive measures."

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