This week the east coast is experiencing another mid-summer heat wave, only this time the accompanying humidity is out of control. What better time than now to talk about hot weather training tips to help avoid heat related illnesses.
There are three main levels of severity when facing a heat related illness:
- Heat Fatigue
- Heat Exhaustion
- Heat Stroke
Heat fatigue is an early warning sign that the body is struggling to keep cool. Symptoms can include increased sweating and muscle cramping. If you feel heat fatigue setting in, chances are good that you’ve become dehydrated so drink water or an electrolyte enhanced sports drink and stop your activity or move it indoors to a cooler location.
Heat exhaustion is the next level of seriousness when dealing with overheating. Symptoms include profuse sweating, goose bumps, cold or clammy skin, dizziness, headache, fatigue, a weak yet rapid pulse, muscle cramping, nausea, and a flushed or red face. If you feel that you’re suffering from heat exhaustion, stop your activity immediately and seek a shade or an indoor air conditioned location to rest. Cool the body by applying cold wet towels across the neck and head. Replenish fluids with either cold water or an electrolyte enhanced sports drink. If you’re experiencing any sort of dizziness, lie on your back with your feet elevated slightly until the dizziness subsides. Continue to monitor your symptoms for at least twenty-four hours and if symptoms don’t go away or get worse, seek medical attention.
Heat stroke is by far the most serious of all heat related illnesses and can even be deadly. Symptoms include an extreme body temperature of 104° or higher with skin hot to the touch. Other symptoms include confusion, slurred speech, nausea and/or vomiting, stoppage of sweating, a racing heart beat with rapid breathing, and in extreme cases, can result in seizures or a coma. If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for medical attention, move to a cooler location and remove any excess clothing. If possible get into a tub of cold water to help lower your core body temperature, or at minimum place cold, wet towels across the head, neck, and any other areas possible.
Heat related illnesses can be often be avoided by not putting yourself in the position of exercising during extreme weather conditions; however, there are times when there are no other options, especially if it’s your work that has you out in all weather conditions. If you must work or exercise outside during the hot summer months, you can follow these tips to keep yourself safer.
Eight tips to help avoid becoming a victim of heat related illnesses:
- Acclimate your body to the current environmental conditions gradually
- Aways be aware of forecasted weather and plan accordingly
- Exercise early in the day when it’s coolest if possible
- Stay well hydrated at all times
- Select breathable lightweight clothing
- Take breaks as necessary to cool down
- Be willing to skip a workout if conditions become unbearable
- Listen to your body, and stop or slow down if necessary
The most important tip is the last one. Whenever working out, even under the best of conditions, it’s important to always listen to your body.
- • Have you ever suffered from a heat related illness? ~ Several years ago after spending four hours cutting the grass and working in our yard under extremely hot and humid conditions, I sweated so much that my electrolytes became unbalanced. I experienced muscle cramping, a headache, and ringing in my ears that didn’t go away for a couple of days. My headache went away as soon as I rehydrated, but the ringing in my ears persisted until I researched and discovered I should be drinking an electrolyte enhanced sports drink. After drinking some Gatorade and eating bananas the ringing in my ears went away.
- • If so, what did you need to do to recover?
- • What’s the weather been like where you live?