Heat Related Illnesses on the Rise in Young Athletes

Know the Facts about Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

By: Dr. Ismael Torres Rosario
Chiro One Wellness Center

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthThe United States is in the grip of a record hot summer, and children and teens that play outdoors sports are vulnerable to heat related illnesses including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The danger is very real. Young athletes today often think they are invincible and it’s important to know the facts about the causes, symptoms and treatments, as well as prevention for heat exhaustion.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may come on suddenly or may develop after days of heat exposure. Possible heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness/Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache


In most cases, you can treat heat exhaustion yourself by doing the following:

  • Stop all activity and rest. Getting into an air-conditioned building is best, but at the least, find a shady spot. Rest on your back with your legs elevated higher than your heart level.
  • Drink cool fluids. Stick to water or sports drinks. Don’t drink any beverages that have alcohol or caffeine, either of which can contribute to fluid loss.
  • Apply cool water to your skin. If possible, take a cool shower or soak in a cool bath. Don’t use alcohol on your skin.
  • Loosen clothing. Remove any unnecessary clothing and make sure your clothes are lightweight and nonbinding.
  • Contact your doctor if your signs or symptoms worsen or if they don’t improve within 60 minutes of using these treatment measures. Seek immediate medical attention if your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature. If your doctor has told you to limit fluids because of a health condition, be sure to check with him or her about how much extra you need to drink when the temperature rises.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages. Recent research shows that heat related fatalities are on the rise as more teens and young adults are drinking more caffeine. Alcohol consumption among college-age youth also leaves them dehydrated which poses a danger.
  • Teach Your Child to Be More Careful. Some children are very competitive and may not want to reduce their activity for fear of looking weak of teammates or coaches. Teach your children about the signs of heat exhaustion and tell them to watch out for their friends.

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