Beating Heat Injuries
The later summer months are traditionally our hottest time of the year. Not surprisingly this is when most heat related injuries are seen. Such injuries are completely preventable and occur when our body temperature rises above normal and the body is no longer able to regulate heat loss.
Contributing factors to heat injury include high temperatures, increased humidity, sun exposure, excessive exertion, consumption of coffee and alcohol, certain medications (especially diuretics) and illnesses (especially vomiting and diarrhoea).
There are many warning signs to alert people that dehydration is impending. Unfortunately these are often ignored, sometimes tragically.
Signs and symptoms of heat injury include thirst, headache, nausea, cramps, dizziness, weakness, lethargy, confusion, hot dry skin, rapid weak pulse, lowered blood pressure, rapid breathing and unconsciousness.
Urine colour is an excellent indicator of the body's hydration. Adequate hydration results in clear, water-like urine. When dehydrated, the body tries to conserve fluid and urine becomes more concentrated, taking on a dark yellow colour. Similar discolouration can be caused by multi-vitamin tablets, which mustn’t be overlooked as a cause.
An excellent guide for recreational athletes is, following exercise, not to consume any alcohol until they are rehydrated and their urine is clear coloured.
• To prevent heat injuries adequate fluid intake must be maintained.
• Water is brilliant, as are good quality sports drinks. But stay away from drinks with high sugar content and those containing caffeine.
• "Slip, Slop and Slap!" Slip on a shirt; slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.
• Wear loose fitting clothes - this permits air circulation and unrestricted movement.
• Avoid exercise during times of extreme heat such as the middle of the day.
• Include plenty of rest time in cool shaded areas as part of your training or playing.
• On a very hot day work out in the pool instead of the running track.
When treating heat injuries:
• Have the patient lie in a cool, shaded area with feet elevated.
• Replace fluid loss by giving plenty of water and sports drink if available.
• Loosen any restrictive clothing. Wet the person's clothes or apply a wet sheet or towel.
• Use fans or other cooling devices to help reduce the body temperature.
• Immerse body in cool water (not cold) such as a bath, swimming pool or river.
• Seek medical attention if the patient becomes confused, suffers from a weak rapid heart rate, or becomes unconscious.
Enjoy your sport this summer but remember that heat injuries can easily be avoided by using common sense and looking out for warning signs.
If you have any further questions, consult your chiropractor. Book online at: https://www.centenarychiro.com.au/ or call us on: 07 3381 0440