5 Steps Towards Avoiding Heat Stroke
With temperatures rapidly rising with the start of summer, please be aware of the all-too-real possibility of heat stroke. It is a life-threatening illness characterized by your core body temperature elevating above 104 degrees and central nervous system dysfunction.
This could happen to anyone, but athletes are especially susceptible during summer workouts. The case of former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl offensive lineman Korey Stringer is an unfortunate cautionary tale: In the prime of his career, he died from heat stroke on Aug. 1, 2001, during preseason workouts when the heat index reached a sweltering 111 degrees – and his core temperature spiked to 108 degrees.
Before this becomes a matter of life or death, take into account the following factors to keep yourself healthy and active this summer.
Begin your intake of fluids with 500 ml of water two hours before beginning exercise, which will allow time for excretion of extra fluid ingestion. Thirty minutes before the workout, drink another 200-300 ml. During the workout, drink another 200-300 ml of cold tap water or a flavored salted beverage (i.e. Gatorade or Powerade) every 20 minutes.
A recommended way for athletes to monitor their fluid status is to weight themselves both before and after workouts. If they are losing more than three percent of their body weight during a workout, they are not hydrating properly.
KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Check the temperature, humidity, heat index, and upcoming forecast before you step outside for your workout. Think of it this way: The higher the heat index, the higher your risk.
This said, we recommend working out in an air-conditioned setting like a gym. It will keep your core body temperature cooler. However, if you insist on doing your workout outside …
GET YOURSELF ACCLIMATED
If you are not used to the Heat — and how your body will respond to it — we recommend limiting the duration and intensity of your workouts before gradually increasing both as your body adjusts. When messing with a high heat index, it is always best to err on the side of caution.
KNOW YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY
If you suffer from dehydration, obesity, recent febrile illness (sudden illness with onset of fever), sickle cell trait, sleep deprivation, and/or sunburn, your body’s ability to deal with heat decreases.
WATCH WHAT YOU WEAR
If you insist on working out in the heat, wear only light-colored clothing. And wear only one layer of sweat-absorbent material, which upon being saturated should be replaced by a dry garment as quickly as possible.
Located at 1111 Paulison Ave. in Clifton, the North Jersey Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Institute serves as the team physician for Belleville and Bloomfield high schools.