Beating the Heat

Athletes Need to Take Steps to Prevent Heat Injuries

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Summer may be ending but athletes should still be aware of the danger posed by heat injuries.
“If you take the proper precautions, a lot of times you can avoid a pretty severe injury,” said Dr. David Rust with St. Luke’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.
Dr. Rust also says there are three major heat injuries to watch for. The first is called hyponatremia.
“As you’re sweating, your body is being depleted of salts,” explained Dr. Rust. “If you’re not replacing those salts by using electrolyte replacing drinks or salt tablets, then you can have significant relation problems due to salt depletion.”
The next, more serious heat injury is heat exhaustion.
“In general those patients are awake and alert,” said Dr. Rust. “If we get them nutrition, some hydration and get them out of the heat in to a shaded area, those patients will recover fairly quickly.”
The most serious type of heat injury is called heat stroke.
“A heat stroke is a medical emergency,” said Dr. Rust. “That happens when a patient has an altered mental state. Those patients have to rapidly cooled before they suffer permanent brain damage.”
Heat injuries are common this time of year, because there are more athletes on the field,. Dr. Rust says school starting training camps for fall sports increases the cases seen.
However, many schools have plans in place to prevent and treat heat injures.
“We talk to them all the time,” said Denfeld football coach Frank Huie. “We tell them if they’re dizzy, feeling light headed, you need to get a drink and you need to go see the trainer.”
Huie makes sure to give his team plenty of water breaks during practice, but he says what the kids put in to their bodies away from practice is a major factor.
“It’s also important that they hydrate the day before,” said Huie. “They also need to make sure they’re getting plenty of good things to eat, bananas, fruits veggies, things that are going to help them so they’re ready for the next day.”
And just because fall is on the way the risk doesn’t become any less.
“ One of the things people don’t realize is that heat related illness is not just related to the temperature outside,” said Dr. Rust. “It’s more important to look at something called the heat index. The heat index is a measure that combines the temperature, the humidity and the atmospheric pressure. Those combination of things are what put people at risk.”
It may be easy to pick up a heat injury, but with the right precautions, they’re just as easy to prevent.

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