Is Your Teen at Risk for Heat Injuries?
Summer is almost over and soon students will be heading back to school, but for thousands of kids, football training camp has already begun. While the media has been focused on concussions and traumatic brain injuries, heat injuries remain a major concern for youth football players and other student athletes.
August in Ohio often includes some of the highest temperatures and humidity levels of the year. It’s important to remember that intense physical activity can result in excessive sweating that depletes athletes’ bodies of salt and water.
Early symptoms of heat-related problems may include painful cramping of major muscle groups. However, if not treated promptly with body cooling and fluid replacement, overheating can quickly progress to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. All students should inform a coach and/or trainer if they are experiencing any symptoms of heat injury.
|Heat Cramps||Painful cramps in the abdomen, arms or legs|
|Heat Syncope (Fainting)||Sudden loss of consciousness due to overheating|
|Heat Exhaustion||Heavy sweating; weakness; skin that feels cold or clammy; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting|
|Heat Stroke (hyperthermia)||A life-threatening condition marked by nausea, seizures, disorientation, unconsciousness or coma|
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the most important safeguard to the health of the athlete is the replacement of water, which should be available to students in unlimited quantities. While proper hydration alone will not necessarily prevent heat illness, it will decrease risk. It is also important to replace salt lost through sweat; however, salt tablets are not recommended. Instead, encourage students to salt their food lightly after practice or games. Other precautions that can prevent heat injuries include taking frequent rests in the shade, practicing without helmets and/or pads, and modifying practice schedules on days with excessive heat and/or humidity.
We encourage families to watch “108°: Critical Response,” a powerful new documentary by the Arkansas Educational Television Network that addresses the dangers of heat illness. Featured in the film are three young victims of heat illness, only one of whom survived.