Heat Illness is one of the most preventable dangers of youth sports yet the number of deaths attributed to it rise every year. 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.
Heat-related illness comes in many forms and has a continuing level of progression of increasing danger if not caught soon enough. Dehydration syndromes include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The earlier the intervention the better the odds of averting a disastrous chain reaction. It does not have to be hot to become dehydrated!
Some symptoms of heat illness or dehydration include: Chills, Dark colored urine, Dizziness, Dry mouth, Headaches, Thirst and Weakness. If heat illness progresses, more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, body temperature increasing to dangerous levels, muscle cramps, nausea, and tingling of the limbs—and even death—may occur.
Hydration should begin before the exercise period. Drinking 16 ounces of water or a sports drink is recommended one hour before exertion. Hydration should continue with 4-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes as long as exertion continues.
Type of fluid replacement depends on the duration of the event. Plain water is adequate for events lasting less than one hour. However, for events that last more than one hour or multiple bouts of exercise in the same day, the replacement fluid should contain carbohydrates, sodium and potassium, which are standard components of commercial sports drinks.
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