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Are Young Athletes At Higher Risk For Heat Exhaustion?

Are young athletes at higher risk for heat exhaustion? I know that our young athletes can get in trouble quickly.

Young Athletes are at risk for sun-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Where do you stand on the safety matter, are young athletes at risk for heat exhaustion? These kids in this image are practicing later in the day. We know this because of the position of their shadows. Long shadows indicate earlier or later sun exposure.

When the shadow is short, the sun is closer and more directly overhead. This is a safety trick to help kids realize the safer times to be out and be active.

Kids get in trouble with sports in the heat because they sweat less for their BMI than adults do.

Often young kids are not as aware of when they are getting too hot. They are young, inexperienced, and don’t yet have the skills needed for playing the game. They put forth more effort trying to make the desire to play well make up for skill and experience. This combination can get them in trouble.

Why You Should Help Your Kids Recognise Problems Developing From Heat

For parents who think that the coaches for the sports that kids are involved in can watch everything going on, that is impossible.

They may want to be on top of everything, but in most situations, there are too few coaches and too many kids.

Practice or game time may be during your work hours and you are unable to attend every practice or game.

Normally heat-related problems happen during the warmer time of the year, and when the humidity is higher. The heat causes the activity to produce more body heat for your kid. The humidity makes the sweat take longer to dissipate or dry up.

Don’t drop your guard, heat exhaustion can take place in cooler months as well. This is why your child needs to have some information about how to protect him or her/self from heat exhaustion.

Are your kids aware when they are actually sweating? Often kids have little self-awareness of how their body is reacting to the demands they are making on it.

Heat Wave Brings More Dangers

A heat wave is a period of hotter than normal weather. When the temperature stays higher than 90 degrees or higher for 48 hours, and the humidity is 80 percent relative humidity.

This means extremely hot temperatures at night as well.

At a certain point, people are very vernable to the weather and it is dangerous to be out in the heat and to stay very active.

However, sometimes the sports that your kids are involved in are holding practice during these extra hot times. This can be a dangerous time for the kids who are young and their bodies don’t cool as efficiently as an adult’s body does.

Talk to your kids about staying safe in the heat. Help them to be aware of sweating. Visit with your youngster about how too much heat can make them feel. About speaking up for themselves.

If your child can have the words to explain the symptoms he is presently feeling, it will help his coach be more able to help him or her in cooling down their body. Know if a five-minute break is needed or a longer one would be better.

When possible, dress your young athletes in sun blocking lightweight clothing to protect their skin from the sun and keep them cooler. Sunburn will make their bodies produce more heat. Exercise heat and sunburn heat can affect their health.

Your child with the ability to address how he/she feels is important for getting help and getting attention before the actual heat exhaustion stage of a heat-related issue.

Common Actions That Contribute To A Dangerous Heat Reaction

Are young athletes at risk for heat exhaustion

Young kids are learning a sport, giving extra effort to learn the rules and gain the skills to do well. This can all take extra effort. The extra effort makes them use even more energy. When your kids burn more energy, their inside temperature will also rise. This makes them sweat.

Add to this the fact that that youngster is not experienced and does not recognize when he may be getting too hot. Add to that any extra layers of protective equipment, and there may be an extra burden on your child’s cooling efforts.

I will admit that I am thinking about the football season coming up. Our grandson loves playing and is learning the game. The coaches in our small rural communities are the high school coaches. They have little time to schedule this activity for the younger kids.

Practice in July, and games start in August! Just like for the older kids. It is hot in central Texas this time of year. Adding a helmet that holds the heat in makes the kid’s bodies have less skin area that can be cooled when sweating.

Then there are the pads they use. It can be a steam bath! I dread this for our grandson and his teammates.

Of course, the kids are excited, and in his 3rd year, he is aware of the work and sweat involved.

All of these events can be too much for the adult supervisors to be aware of any one child who is having an off day. He doesn’t feel well to start with, not sick, just sub-par. This can cause reactions quicker than usual in your child’s ability to cool himself.

Having the ability to tell their coaches or other adults present that they are not well is important. Talk about these symptoms with your kids.

Symptoms Of Heat Cramps And Suggestion For Treatment

Most of the time Heat Cramps are the result of the exercise your kids are doing and the resulting loss of sodium and fluids in their system.
This is usually the first sign of heat illness, but not always.

  • Heat Cramps are muscle pains or spasms. Normally in the abdomen, arms, or legs.
    To Treat Heat Cramps
  • Stop all activity and get in a cool place. If experiencing heat cramps, your child should sit still in the shade, or where there is a cool breeze and no hot sun. Your cool vehicle is a good place.
  • Your child should drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
  • Kids should not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside
  • Always seek medical attention if cramps continue longer than 1 hour.

When a Heat-Related Illness develops, it is because that person’s natural cooling system has begun to fail.

This failure will allow internal heat to build up to dangerous levels in that person’s body.

When your child’s inside heat is not able to be sweated out and the sweat’s drying isn’t producing cooling, a heat illness may develop.

Normally your child is alerted when heat-related cramps began. There can also be heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Your child’s internal heat escape by sweating is important. If this is not happening, internal heat build-up can quickly reach dangerous levels. Help your child help himself stay safe.

Symptoms Of Heat Exhaustion and Suggested Treatment

Heat Exhaustion is often ignored as “Not Serious.”

However, remember that Heat Exhaustion is a heat illness that develops after several days of exposure to hot temperatures. If your child has not been replacing the fluids he needs every day, the situation in his body is going into a stressful condition.

Real problems are not far behind.

Without enough fluids being replaced, their bodies lose the ability to sweat and cool themselves. If temperatures are higher, and exercise is continued, even moderate exercise, your child will not be able to cool their body as needed.

Trouble is next on the horizon.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion are:

  • Heavy Sweating, often with Paleness of face and skin.
  • Muscle cramps indicated that all is not well. There will often be tiredness and listlessness.
  • Overall feelings of weakness often with feelings of dizziness.
  • A headache, often with nausea and vomiting.
  • Heat Exhaustion often will result in fainting.

Treatment

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages, or water with salt and sugar or sports drinks.
  • Rest is needed, in a cool place.
  • Take a cool shower, or bath, or even a sponge bath.
  • Get in where there’s an air-conditioner and preferable dim to dark lighting.
  • Dress in lightweight loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink enough water or other fluids every day to prepare. A couple of ounces every 15 or so minutes will help keep heat exhaustion away.
  • Planned drinking can help. Plan to have your child drink often during the sports season. Even at home, drinking enough water should be encouraged.

A reminder that Heat Exhaustion is a moderate heat illness that develops after several days of exposure to high temperatures and not replacing fluids.

Your child’s skin may be cool and moist. His pulse rate will be fast and
weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow.

Common sense for limitations of exercise sessions and enough fluid replacement is a good habit to build.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke and Treatment Suggestions

Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related illness.

It occurs when the victim’s body becomes unable to control its temperature. This is usually because fluids have not been replaced for several days. Your child’s body can no longer cool itself.

A heat stroke can cause permanent disability or even death if emergency treatment is not provided quickly.

A heat stroke will have warning symptoms. The signs of a heat stroke can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Is your child’s temperature going above 104* F?
  • Does your child have red, hot, and dry skin and no sweating?
  • Is your child having a rapid, strong pulse, and/or a throbbing headache?
  • Does your child suffer from dizziness, and/or nausea?
  • Confusion and disorientation often occur, and it isn’t unusual for victims to lapse into unconsciousness.

Treatment For Heat Stroke
Don’t Ignore a heat stroke. It can be a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate EMS while you begin cooling the victim.

  • First, get the victim to a shady area.
  • It is important to cool the victim rapidly. Use whatever methods you can; Apply ice packs in the armpits, groin, and neck areas. Place the victim in a tub of cool water, or place the person in a cool shower.
    Even spray cool water from a garden hose, or sponge the person with cool water. You can wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan them to create a cool surface on the sheet.
  • It is very important to monitor the victim’s body temperature and continue the cooling efforts. Continue until the body temperature drops to 101-102° F.
  • Should emergency medical personnel be delayed, call the hospital
    emergency room for further instructions.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible

Sun Blocking Clothing Can Help

If your child becomes sunburned, their ability to cool themselves is reduced. The area of skin that has sunburn will be producing heat from the outside. The conditions that are producing heat exhaustion and maybe even heat stroke are making heat from the inside.

The combination of conditions will require more fluids. Your victim will not be able to drink enough water to make up for the fluid losses.

Preventing sunburn by protecting your child’s skin with sun blocking clothing will be a better choice. Lightweight clothing to practice in will keep them more comfortable. Help protect from sunburn and wick sweat away from your child’s body. A loose fit will also allow some air around the youngster’s sweaty body.

By keeping your kids protected from the sun, and resulting sunburn, you are allowing the natural cooling. When there is natural cooling working as it should, often serious conditions are avoided.

Protecting your child from sunburn is the first step to avoiding these serious heat-related illnesses. The second step is to help establish good hydration habits.

Where will you start with your young athletes?

Protecting your kids by dressing them for sun exposure
Sami’s Take On Are Young Athletes At Risk For Heat Exhaustion

Have you prepared your young athletes for taking better care of their health? They can become their own or their teammates’ advocates in this matter of preventing heat-related illness.

Yes, the coaches are watching, but sometimes they need help. If your youngster is aware of what to watch for, getting the attention of an adult will be easier. Often at the younger levels, kids will try to say they are sick when they are having trouble learning a particular move or if they are told to run.

Coaches do the best they can, but they are human too. Being as observant as possible may not always be possible. When your young athlete is practicing or playing, plan to stay on location to become another set of eyes. Help watch the kids in the hotter times.

Starting a parent group to help monitor the health of the kids is another safety move. As the planet warms, and summertime really heats up, keeping our young athletes safe is important.

Help your kids be aware of the danger of getting overheated. There will be times you can’t be present as the child gets more independent. He/She needs to be able to help themselves.

References:

Orange County CA. Department Of Education

Child Safety For Hot Weather


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