Guest post by:
T. Ryan Littlejohn, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

It seems simple, but do you drink enough fluids before exercising? Proper hydration is one of the top preventive actions for heat related illnesses. According to CDC recommendations, when exercising you should drink 24 ounces of fluids two hours before activity and at least 16 ounces of fluid 15 minutes beforehand. I am not referring to soft drinks or alcohol, but water. When trying to rehydrate make sure to add a sport drink or some type of electrolyte fluid to add nutrients safely during your recovery. Checking your urine is also important. It should be clear; a person who is well hydrated should have the urge to go to the bathroom every two to four hours. It also seems obvious, but ingesting alcohol is a bad idea because it will cause dehydration, so avoid it completely.

Prevention is the most effective treatment for heat related illnesses. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Proper training for the heat with gradual increase in intensity level over 7 to14 days
  2. Fluid replacement/hydration
  3. Appropriate clothing – light colored, loose fitting, one layer
  4. Monitor intensity of activity during high heat hours
  5. Early recognition – have an athletic trainer on site during all practices and events

When an athlete is overheated, steps should be taken to ensure that the athlete is cooled properly. Exertional heat stroke is defined as the athlete having a rectal temperature above 104 degrees. A cold water immersion tub is extremely important to use in order to cool the body immediately. If at all possible, use a rectal thermometer to get an accurate temperature, as an oral temperature may give false readings. According to the Korey Stringer Institute, research suggests if a person is cooled within 10 min of collapse and is properly cooled below 104 degrees, they will have a 100 percent survival rate. There are also many other steps to be taken like removing clothing and helmets to release the heat from the body. Emergency medical services should always be called in the event of a heat illness, but make sure steps are taken to cool the body before EMS arrives. Hopefully this information will help you as you enjoy exercising in the Lowcountry. As a rule of thumb, when it doubt call 911.

Resources:

WebMD - Heat Related Illnesses Prevention

Korey Stringer Institute

Stop Sports Injuries