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Helping Student Athletes Avoid Heat Illness

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Risk for heat illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, is highest when kids exercise in hot, humid weather. Image for illustration purposes

Mega Doctor News

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Cleveland Clinic – Fall sports practices are in full swing despite hot summer weather.

So how do we keep kids safe from heat illness when temperatures rise?

Adam Keating, MD, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said hydration is key.

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“We do think that hydrating is one of the most important things that kids can do when they’re exercising in heat,” he said. “And, in general, for athletes in high intensity exercise, we want them drinking before they are thirsty and hydrating before that, as well as regular cooling down and hydration afterwards.”

Risk for heat illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, is highest when kids exercise in hot, humid weather.

Symptoms of heat illness include nausea, vomiting, weakness, confusion. If untreated, heat illness can be deadly.

Dehydration increases the risk of heat-related illness. Signs of dehydration include thirst, headache, dizziness and fatigue.

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When caught early, dehydration can be easily treated with fluids.

But, Dr. Keating said getting ahead of the heat is best.

He recommends taking frequent breaks, removing pads to cool down and drinking plenty of fluids.

“The vast majority of the time, water is going to be adequate to hydrate the athletes but if you’re doing very vigorous activity for probably greater than an hour with high intensity, then a sports drink may help out to help replenish some of those electrolytes,” advised Dr. Keating.

Dr. Keating said it’s important for kids to pay attention to early signs of dehydration. He said kids should know it’s okay to speak up and tell their coach if they’re not feeling well.

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