If dehydration goes untreated, the likelihood of heat exhaustion may increase. Eventually, fatigue and exhaustion will occur because you can no longer support exercise and core body temperature control at the same time. Common symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
- Dizziness and Fatigue
- Rapid pulse
Treatment of heat exhaustion is similar to that of dehydration and should take place immediately. This treatment includes:
- Rest in a cool, shaded area and place ice cold towels on the body
- Drink a sports drink that contains the adequate amount of electrolytes
- Lie down with legs elevated to promote circulation
- Athlete should begin to feel better relatively soon, if not, assume heat stroke
Heat stroke is a medical emergency, when it is not recognized promptly and treated properly it can result in death. If rapid cooling does not occur, cellular damage to organs could be extreme and have fatal consequences. Symptoms and results of heat stroke include:
- Very high core body temperature (measured rectally – do not use oral, axillary, tympanic, temporal artery, etc…).
- Altered Central Nervous System function (i.e. confusion or unconsciousness or altered mental status, feeling out-of-sorts, extreme lethargy)
- Otherwise healthy athlete collapses during intense exercise in the heat
Remember athletes get better relatively quickly with heat exhaustion and they get worse with heat stroke. The important thing to remember is that heat stroke must be treated immediately. Call 911 and begin treatment.
- Cool first. Then transport to hospital.
- Immediate cool down by whatever means possible
- An ice bath in a “cool pool” is preferable due to the superior cooling rates (holding head out of bath)
- Ice packs over as much of the body as possible
- A cool shower
- Cool, wet towels
- Water spray
- Transport a suspected heat stroke to the hospital
Do not drink fluids since nausea and vomiting are extremely common. Remove from cooling source when temperature is lowered to 102 degrees F.