By Robert Lim, PTA
JOI talks about Summer Heat Illness and Hydration in Stretch Summer Edition
Heat-related illness and death are on the rise. Heat stroke, a severe form of heat-related illness, is one of the three leading causes of death in athletes and likely the leading cause among athletes in July and August.
WHY DOES HEAT ILLNESS OCCUR?
When an athlete exercises, the body’s temperature is elevated and the body sweats to cool itself down. During this process, body fluid as well as critical electrolytes are lost. If the body isn’t replenished with fluids and electrolytes, dehydration may occur and increase the risk of a heat illness such as heat stroke.
HOW CAN HEAT ILLNESS BE PREVENTED?
The most effective treatment for heat-related illnesses is prevention. This includes proper training for the heat, fluid replacement before, during and after exertion, appropriate clothing. Clothing should be light colored, dry fit, loose fitting and one layer, Monitoring the intensity of physical activity appropriate for fitness and the athlete’s acclimatization status.
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HOW CAN HEAT ILLNESS BE TREATED?
When you see any signs of heat illness or heat stroke, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the individual at risk. Treatment tips include: Getting the athlete to a shaded area. If it is heat stroke, cool the athlete rapidly using cold water immersion. If immersion is not available you may use spray from a hose, cold water sponging or placing cold towels over the entire body. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and you need to seek medical attention immediately.
Monitoring body temperature. Providing cool beverages if possible (i.e., if the athlete does not have altered consciousness). Getting medical assistance as soon as possible. Heat exhaustion is a form of heat illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.
Feeling Thirsty? Ways to Prevent Dehydration
Do you often feel thirsty? Or have the need to drink excessive amounts of water? That may be your body’s way of letting you know it’s dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include headaches, dry mouth, fatigue, and muscle cramps. If your body does not have enough water, it may not function properly and may put you at a higher risk for health problems. Below are ways to reduce dehydration and stay healthy by maintaining proper fluid balance.
Each day, your body loses water through regular bodily functions, including normal cellular metabolism, breathing, sweating, and urination. It is recommended that you drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day to maintain proper fluid balance. Keep yourself hydrated by making water intake part of your daily routine. A good strategy to maintain hydration is taking a water bottle with you throughout the day and refilling it as needed.
Another tip to reduce dehydration is limiting sun exposure and replenishing fluids after exercise to maintain water loss from perspiration. It is recommended to rehydrate from increased activity by drinking fluids before, during, and after exercise. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and PowerAde, have essential vitamins and electrolytes to rehydrate from fluid loss during exercise. It is also important to be aware of environmental conditions, since excessive temperature and heat may cause an increased rate of dehydration.
Avoid Caffeine and Energy Drinks with Caffeine.
It is important to know that drinks which contain caffeine can certainly make heat illness worse. Caffeine is a diuretic or it may cause you to urinate more often. Some energy drinks with high levels of caffeine should be avoided if you have had a history of heat illness.
Various ways to determine whether you are hydrated include using urine color charts and monitoring your weight to ensure proper fluid replacement. Well-hydrated individuals should have lighter yellow color urine and retain enough water to maintain a consistent weight from day to day. Maintaining a healthy lower sodium diet, avoiding drinks with high caffeine content, as well as reducing alcohol intake, can help your body maintain a good fluid balance. Generally, if you are feeling thirsty and need something to drink, your body may already be in a state of dehydration. Staying hydrated is an easy way to keep your body healthy and functioning properly.
Why You Should Be Drinking Water
Why is water so important for the body? Water is a necessity for your body to function properly. The adult human body contains 60% water. It plays some major key roles in your body to maintain health. Water helps your body maintain homeostasis (normal temperature). Also, it can help with lubrication in joints, and can also help get rid of waste your body produces.
How much water should you drink?
This is a tricky question, each person is different and the need of water depends on many factors such as environment, activity level and illness. The suggestion of eight 8 ounces of water a day is nice because it is easy to remember, but it is not quite enough water for the average adult ending at about 1.9 liters of water. Studies have shown that the average male needs about 3 liters of water and the average woman needs about 2.2 liters. This is not enough for a person who is out in high temperatures and humidity, or a person very active who is sweating a lot.
How can water help you lose weight?
There have been a few studies showing that drinking 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal can help aide in weight loss. By doing this, it will fill your stomach up. Therefore, you may feel full before your meal. This may stop a person from eating so much. Also, by drinking water before a meal will cut calories as opposed to drinking a calorie sugar filled drink. These studies show that people who drink water lose up to 3 pounds more than those who don’t. Finally, to schedule an appointment for physical or occupational therapy, call 904-858-7045 or call any of the 12 area JOI Rehab Centers.
- Related Article: Preparing for Exercise in Hot Weather.
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