Keeping Heat-Related Illness and Dehydration of Youth During Sports at Bay
If your kids play youth sports, you should be aware of heat-related illness and dehydration.
Both have always been concerns for coaches, athletes and of course, parents. Each year heat- related illness and dehydration syndromes affects thousands of athletes at all levels and continues to be among the leading causes of preventable sports injury and death.
Heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These should not be seen as individual entities but as part of a continuum. The earlier they are caught, the better the odds of avoiding a possibly deadly outcome.
The National Center for Sports Safety Initiatives suggests these tips:
- Work out in early morning or late evening.
- Avoid the hottest times of the day.
- Reduce the intensity and duration of your workout.
- Take the time to get into shape before arriving at training camp. Know the climate you are going to and try to get acclimated before getting there.
- Take frequent rests and remove your headgear. The head has an ideal body-mass to surface-area-ratio to maximize heat loss.
- Drink often and drink regulary
- Do not rely on thirst, by the time you are feeling thirsty, there is already a significant fluid deficit.
- Drink more than just water. When you exert yourself, you lose electrolytes as well as fluid. Replacing the fluid alone (with just water) can lead to electrolyte imbalances.
These imbalances can be life-threatening.
- Monitor your urine; it should be the consistency of lemonade, not apple juice.
- Eat and sleep well. Maintain a well-balanced diet. Replenish salt and rehydrate.
- Avoid alcohol, soda, caffeine and other stimulants.
- Gain or lose weight slowly, allowing your body time to acclimate to the change.
- Sharp drops in weight after exertion can be an indicator of excessive fluid loss.
- Know the warning signs of heat related illness and dehydration syndromes.
What to Look For?
- Confusion – cannot remember simple things, complete simple/routine tasks.
- Irritability – a change in temperament.
- Belligerence – easily frustrated, compounded by the confusion and irritability.
- Light headedness
- Fatigue – in excess of what would be anticipated. Paradoxical chills – goose bumps and shivering in the face of high environmental temperature (an ominous sign).
If You or Someone Else is Exhibiting These Symptoms:
- Stop the activity immediately.
- Move to a cool (shaded) area.
- Get some fluid (water, sports drink, IV).
- Contact a health professional or your sport safety certified coach.
Now that you are more aware of heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes, and whether you are a player, coach, or parent, you should be able to enjoy youth sports with more confidence.