Monday, July 20, 2009

Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

HELLO ALL!! I don't mean to scare you with the blog post title. I thought this would be good information to have for all of you exercising or playing in the heat this summer. We have had a HOT summer so far in Austin. I sure have been enjoying my afternoon runs and rides! So I have found these symptoms and prevention facts for heat exhaustion & stroke interesting.
Heat exhaustion often occurs when people exercise, work or play in a hot and humid environment causing the loss of fluids through sweating that lead to the body overheating. The person's temperature may be elevated, but not above 104 degrees F. This typically occurs when people are not well adjusted to heat exercise.
At high temperatures, the body cools itself largely through evaporation of sweat. When it is humid, this mechanism does not work properly. The body loses a combination of fluids and salts/electrolytes. When this is accompanied by an inadequate replacement of fluids, disturbances in the circulation may result that are similar to a mild form of shock.
Try to avoid heat exhaustion by not engaging in strenuous activity in hot, humid environments especially if you are not used to the conditions. Increased recovery time may be needed. If you can incorporate periods of rest in a cool or shaded environment with fluids is a plus. Try to avoid strenuous activity at the hottest part of the day as well.
Mild cases of heat exhaustion may be corrected by resting in a cool, shaded place while consuming cold fluids such as water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Also loosen or remove clothing and apply cool water to skin.
Heat stroke is a life threatening medical condition. The person's cooling system, which is controlled by the brain, stops working and the internal body temperature rises to the point where brain damage or damage to other internal organs may result. The body temperature may reach 105 degrees F. This condition may develop quickly. People taking medications or with prior medical conditions that impair the body's ability to sweat may contribute to this. People who are taking antihistamines and certain types of medications for high blood pressure or depression may be more prone to develop this condition. The classic form of heat stroke occurs in people whose cooling mechanisms are impaired. Don't overlook the fact that healthy people who are undergoing STRENUOUS activity in a hot environment are prone to this as well.
If you suspect a case of heat stroke call 911 immediately. Move the person to a cooler environment or in a cool bath of water if conscious and can be attended to. Alternatively, moisten the skin with lukewarm water and use a fan to blow cool air across the skin. Give cool beverages by mouth only if the person has a normal mental state and can tolerate it. Be careful out in the heat this summer and ENJOY! Trainer Todd

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