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SAFETY - Heat Disorders

You need to be aware of not just the signs but also how to treat heat-related disorders. We want you to keep training hard for our upcoming races but most importantly we want you to be safe every step of the way.

 

Heat disorders occur when the body is unable to get rid of excess body heat causing our body’s temperature to rise higher than 104° Fahrenheit.   

 

Knowing these tips as well as the symptoms of heat disorder can mean the difference between life and death both for yourself and others around you.

Prevention

The best thing you can do is prevent the onset of overheating in the first place.  

 

A few easy things you can do to drastically lower your chance of overheating while training, or just being active outside generally, are to:

  • Schedule workouts in the morning or night when it's cooler and lower humidity,

  • Wear appropriate lightweight and/or light-colored clothing, and

  • Drink plenty of fluids (naturally) 

Potential Heat Disorders

(i) Heat Cramps

 

Heat cramps are the easiest to spot of the three disorders because a person’s muscle begins to contract involuntarily causing severe pain. When cramping starts it is important to stop all activity immediately, move to a cooler location, and begin to get fluids.

 

Although it is possible to return to an adjusted activity after suffering from heat cramps, it is strongly advised against doing so because a heat cramp is a sign that the next heat disorder is right around the corner.

  • Signs: Involuntary muscle contractions

  • Causes: Increased body temperature, dehydration, electrolyte loss

  • Treatment: Move to cooler location and administer fluids, stop activity

(ii) Heat Exhaustion

 

Heat exhaustion is the next stage of heat disorder. Although heat cramps are a warning sign of possibly overheating further, heat exhaustion can occur without experiencing cramping because heat exhaustion is a systemic response to the body sharing its blood supply between muscles (for performance) and skin (for heat dissipation) when the body is unable to meet all of its needs because the body's normal heat loss systems (such as sweating) aren't functioning normally.  

 

You can spot heat exhaustion with signs of extreme fatigue, nausea, weak pulse, low blood pressure, and dizziness. It is important to act quickly to move the person to a cool environment and to give them fluids. It also may also help to elevate their legs to improve blood flow back to the heart.  

 

If heat exhaustion does occur, all activity must stop for the day and seek medical attention if it isn't possible to cool the person off at that location. Heat exhaustion is a severe heat illness. If uncared for the next heat disorder can occur with life threatening consequences.

  • Signs: Extreme fatigue, nausea, weak pulse, low blood pressure, dizziness

  • Causes: Increased core temperature

  • Treatment: Cease activity for the day, move to cooler location, administer fluids, elevate feet, and seek medical attention if needed

(iii) Heat Stroke

 

Heat stroke is the final and most serious stage of heat disorder and requires immediate medical attention as it can be life threatening. Heat stroke can happen without experiencing any symptoms of heat cramps or heat exhaustion and occurs when the body loses its ability to cool itself off and all of the body’s heat loss mechanisms are non-functional and require external measures to cool off.  

 

As the body’s core temperature rises above 104° F, a person will show signs of hot and dry skin, cessation of sweating, rapid respiration rate, elevated pulse, confusion, and faintness.  Immediate action should be taken to cool the body down using anything and everything available such as ice, water immersion, or fans while seeking professional medical help.

  • Signs: Hot and dry skin, cessation of sweating, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, confusion, faintness

  • Causes: Loss of ability to regulate core temperature

  • Treatment: Cease activity, use external measures to cool the body, and seek immediate medical attention

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