Caution Urged for Athletes Practicing in High Heat, Humidity - Adventist HealthCare

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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on August 22, 2003

Press Release

Caution Urged for Athletes Practicing in High Heat, Humidity

As the beginning of school nears, many high school athletes are participating in rigorous practices in preparation for the upcoming season. The high heat and humidity of August present a risk for heat-related illnesses even for the healthiest person.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital's pediatric emergency department recently treated three student-athletes from three different high schools, who were suffering from heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses. All three otherwise healthy teens had acute renal failure due to lack of sufficient hydration. All three required hospitalization, but have since recovered.

Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness:

  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Nausea/vomiting/abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

More Severe Symptoms May Include:

  • Feeling faint or passing out
  • Chest pains/difficulty breathing
  • Fever/chills
  • Irritability or altered level of consciousness
  • Profuse sweating or no sweating at all

Suggested Guidelines for Athletes Practicing in High Heat, Humidity

Dr. Scott Freedman, Pediatric Emergency Physician and Medical Director of Pediatric Services at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, recommends the following:

  • "Calculating one's fluid needs is difficult and depends on a number of factors, including the type of exercise being done, how strenuous the workout is, the time participating in the workout, the air temperature and humidity, and the athlete's body weight and physical condition. It would not be unreasonable to need a gallon of fluids a day, especially during two-a-day workouts. A good guideline is six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 minutes, starting before the workout begins and continuing much after it ends. The best fluids to drink are cold water and sports drinks, avoiding caffeine and sodas," says Dr. Freedman
  • Athletes are encouraged to drink enough fluids until they urinate and are free of any heat-related symptoms.
  • Some teams are practicing twice a day this time of year. If an athlete displays any symptoms of heat-related illness after the first practice, they should not start the second practice until all symptoms have subsided.
  • Coaches should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness in the event that an athlete may not be forthcoming with feelings of sickness. Coaches should be proactive in encouraging athletes to consume fluids before, frequently during and after practice.

If mild symptoms persist after oral hydration, or if severe symptoms exist, the athletes should be brought to their local emergency department to be assessed.

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