The Sport Medicine and Science Council of Manitoba Shares Tips to Stay Cool in the Heat
Enjoying ourselves outdoors is a great part of Manitoba summers. However, there are a few risks involved, especially in extremely hot, humid conditions. The following will help explain some of these risks, their causes and how to prevent them.
Heat illness occurs when the body generates heat faster than it can be expelled and always is associated with dehydration and electrolyte loss. Body temperatures can range from 100 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Taken to the extreme, body temperatures can exceed 106 degrees and organ damage can occur. This is often referred to as heat stroke. Heat stroke causes a change in consciousness, which can result in fainting.
Heat illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps (muscle cramps). Heat illness can affect you quickly and are mainly caused by over exposure to heat or over exertion in the heat.
Several things contribute to heat illness other than hot summer weather and dehydration. These include high humidity, lack of air conditioning, high ultraviolet sun exposure for long periods of time, the duration of exposure and intensity of physical exertion. Personal factors also can contribute such as taking certain medications and having or recovering from illness.
Signs & Symptoms
• Changes in behaviour (sleeping or temper tantrums)
• Dizziness or fainting
• Nausea or vomiting
• Rapid breathing and heartbeat
• Extreme thirst
• Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
Training in Hot Environments
Exercise in hot environments can be associated with reduced performance due to dehydration and increased body temperature. Exercise in hot environments for training or competition has significant risk of heat related illness if appropriate precautions and adequate preparations are not followed.
Exercise in hot environments can also occur in indoor settings. Gymnasiums and fitness facilities without air conditioning can often have very high temperatures and humidity requiring the same precautions to be taken.
Sunburn is literally burning of your skin results from overexposure to sun. Sunburn can occur during a variety of conditions including cloudy days, winter months (though not as severely as during the summer).
Treatment Tips for Mild Symptoms of Sunburn
Get away from UV source, find shade and cover up. Relieve discomfort by consuming pain relievers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, etc. and/or use a variety of cold compresses sold at local pharmacies. Avoid salts, oils and perfumes after sunburn and avoid scrubbing or shaving, while taking showers frequently
**If these Treatment Tips don’t help reduce the symptoms, see doctor**
Dehydration is caused by the excessive loss of water and salts from the body due to illness or prolonged exposure to heat. Severe dehydration can become a life threatening condition for athletes, coaches and spectators.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day (even more when you’re sweating). Stay in shaded areas as much as possible. To stay hydrated schedule adequate hydration breaks, every 10-15 minutes. Ensure athletes are drinking 1-2 cups of water before exercise and 1 litre/hour of exercise and don’t forget to keep hydrating post exercise.
NOTE: Exercise reduces thirst, so keep drinking because if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Treatment for Mild Dehydration
• Remove from participation, remove equipment and put in the shade
• Apply external cooling, drink fluids and assume recovery position
• Be familiar with the early signs of heat illness and act immediately to prevent heat stroke.
• If an athlete is completely unconscious from heat stroke and you do not feel a pulse, it is important to dial 911, begin CPR and request an AED.
• For milder heat exhaustion without mental status changes, the person should be removed immediately from the warm environment, have their temperature taken and their pulse checked. If either pulse or temperature is abnormal, quick medical attention is important. Under no circumstances should a person experiencing heat exhaustion be allowed to resume vigorous physical activities that same day.
• A physician should be consulted if there are signs of dark urine or blood in the urine later in the day.