Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Know The Warning Signs Of Heatstroke

In the heat, you should always stop competing during practice or a game if you feel sick, have chills, headache, severe muscle burning or aching, dizziness or blurred vision.

If your symptoms don't subside in a few minutes, you could be headed for a heat stroke that can kill you. During athletic competition lasting 2-4 hours, fatigue, dehydration, muscle weakness/cramps and decreased coordination is caused by low levels of fluids, salt or glycogen (fuel from carbohydrate calories). It is important to keep your fluids, salt and glycogen levels adequate during competition because it is often too late once the symptoms show up.

Endurance sports require your heart to efficiently pump oxygen in your bloodstream from your lungs into your muscles. A study from the University of Connecticut shows that with dehydration, your heart beats with far less force, so it pumps far less blood with each beat. Therefore, an inadequate amount of oxygen reaches your muscles.

Don't depend on thirst to tell you when you lack fluids. When you are going to exercise for more than a couple hours, especially in hot weather, drink small amounts of water frequently and eat salted snacks or consume a sports drink.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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