Guidelines to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke


AUGUST 2015 – This is the time of year so many fall sports begin practicing. This is exciting long as you are careful with how hot it is outside.

Football gets the most attention about heat exhaustion injuries, but there are plenty of other sports teams out there practicing. All athletes need to be mindful of their condition of their body in the heat.

The intense temperatures of the past month or so can have a drastic effect on you and usually this extreme heat lasts through August. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of serious conditions that can occur if you overdo it in this weather.

Either of these conditions can happen when your body gets too hot. Of the two, heat stroke is by far more serious and can lead to death if not treated immediately. The symptoms can come on so suddenly, that preventative measures are important.

A smart athlete takes care of their body in order to perform well at all times. This includes drinking plenty of fluids before exercising, maintaining a nutritious diet that includes vegetables, fruit and plenty of protein, taking multi-vitamin supplements, getting plenty of rest and knowing your body well enough to pay attention to signs that something isn’t quite right.

Health & Fitness ReportMedications, prescription and over the counter drugs can have an effect on dehydrating as well. Some allergy, blood pressure and seizure medications are just a few that can affect how your body reacts to heat.

It’s easier to prevent heat exhaustion than to treat it. Wear appropriate clothing when exercising and don’t try to work out in extreme heat conditions. Appropriate clothing is light weight and light colored that ventilates well.

Warm up your muscles correctly before exercising, and don’t overexert yourself. Take frequent breaks to rehydrate. Sweating depletes the body of salt and moisture that muscles need and when it becomes too low, you can experience heat cramps. It is important to replace that salt and moisture with water, Pedialyte, which is an oral electrolyte solution manufactured by Abbott Laboratories that is designed to replace fluids and minerals that are lost and salty foods, such as peanuts. If the cramping continues, you should seek medical attention. You should drink eight ounces of fluid for every 15 – 30 minutes of exercise outdoors in the heat.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, chills, nausea and weakness. The person should be moved to a cool shady area and use cold packs on the back of the neck, under the arm and in the groin area. This is the quickest way to cool the body down.

To determine heat stroke, you can have all of the aforementioned symptoms and add a body temperature more than 104 F, seizures, breathing problems, cool skin and disorientation. The skin will be flushed and feel cool and clammy to touch. You can do a test to determine if they are dehydrated by pinching their arm or back of the hand. If the skin stays a bit pinched after you let go, they need fluids and medical attention immediately.

You can suffer from heat exhaustion at any time when you spend a lot of time in this extreme heat. That includes hanging out at the local theme park or being a spectator at a sporting event. Stay hydrated and watch for heat exhaustion signs for yourself and for the people around you.

Article by Dr. Lynn McIntosh. Dr. McIntosh is a board certified Chiropractor, licensed in Kansas and Missouri. In addition to being licensed to provide general chiropractic care, she is also a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, working with athletes from multiple disciplines on specific sports-related problems and a Certified Acupuncturist. She can be found on the internet at

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