Preventing Musculoskeletal Sports Injuries in Youth:

A Guide for Parents Part 4 (Presented by End Results Health & Wellness).


Childhood Sports Injuries: A Common and Serious Problem


Over the past 3 Newsletters on Childhood Sports Injuries I talked about some of the more common injuries to children. In my opinion heat related illness in the most over looked of all the possible injuries.

In this Newsletter I’ll discuss what a heat related illness is, how it occurs, symptoms of heat related illness, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.

What is a heat-related illness?

A heat-related illness is a medical condition that may occur as a result of heat exposure. Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Heat-related illness encompasses a spectrum of conditions that range from minor illnesses to life-threatening medical emergencies. There are several heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and heat rash.

Summer can bring heat waves with unusually high temperatures that can last for days and sometimes weeks. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 7,415 deaths due to heat-related illness in the United States from 1999 to 2010, or an average of approximately 618 deaths per year. Heat waves lead to more deaths annually in the United States than tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes combined. In the summer of 1980, a severe heat wave hit the United States, and approximately 1,700 people lost their lives from heat-related illness. Likewise, in the summer of 2003, tens of thousands of people died in Europe from an extreme heat wave. Most recently, the summer of 2012 heat wave in the United States led to many heat-related deaths, and numerous all-time high temperature records were broken throughout the United States. High temperatures put people at risk.

What causes a heat-related illness?

People suffer heat related illness when the body’s normal temperature control system is unable to effectively regulate its internal temperature. Normally, at high temperatures the body primarily cools itself through the evaporation of sweat. However, under certain conditions (air temperatures above 95F or 35 C with high humidity) this cooling mechanism becomes less effective. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Furthermore, without adequate fluid intake, excessive fluid losses and electrolyte imbalance may also occur leading to dehydration. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures can damage the brain and other vital organs. Heat injuries are always dangerous and can be fatal. Heat-related injuries are a particular problem for children because children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Playing rigorous sports in the heat requires close monitoring of both body and weather conditions. Fortunately, heat-related illnesses can be prevented.



What are the symptoms of heat related illness?

Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness vary based on the condition. Below are a few symptoms of heat related illness:

  • Heat rash symptoms: red bumps on the skin, a feeling of prickly or itchy feeling to the skin.

  • Heat syncope symptoms:  dizziness or lightheadedness and fainting, generally due to prolonged exposure to heat, dehydration, or orthostatic hypotension.

  • Heat cramps symptoms: significant sweating, involuntary spasm of the large muscles in the body (such as the thigh muscles).

  • Heat exhaustion symptoms: nausea and vomiting, headache, muscle cramps, weakness, and profuse sweating.

  • Heat stroke symptoms: dizziness, muscle cramps and aches, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, headache, and weakness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.

  • Dehydration (deficit in body fluids) occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions.

What is the treatment for heat related illness?

  • Get the person to a cool indoor or outdoor area and remove restrictive clothing.

  • Cool the person rapidly using whatever methods you can. For example, if possible, immerse the person in a tub of cool water or place them in a cool shower. You may also spray them with lukewarm water and blow cool air from a fan towards them. If the humidity is low, loosely wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously. Alternatively, place ice or cold packs to the armpits, neck, and groin areas.

  • Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to about 102 F or lower (38.8 C), in order to prevent overcooling the affected individual.

  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.

  • If the affected individual is awake and alert, give them cool fluids to drink. Do not give them alcohol to drink.

  • drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages, such as water and sports drinks,
  • eat salty snacks,
  • rest in the shade or in an air-conditioned environment,
  • take a cool shower or bath, and
  • Loosen or remove clothing.
  • Stop all activity, and sit and rest in a cool place.
  • Drink water, juice or a sports beverage, and eat a salty snack.
  • Passively stretch the affected muscles.
  • Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside as further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.

Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These are necessary for your body and must be replaced. The easiest and safest way to replace salt and minerals is through your diet.

  • Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage during exercise or work in the heat.

  • Do not take salt tablets unless directed by your doctor.

  • If you are on a low-salt diet, ask your doctor before changing what you eat or drink, especially before drinking sports beverages.

    Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen

  • Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will provide shade and keep the head cool.

  • Sunburn affects the body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids. It also causes pain and damages the skin.

  • A variety of sunscreens are available to reduce the risk of sunburn. The protection that they offer against sunburn varies. Check the sun protection factor (SPF) number on the label of the sunscreen container. Select SPF 15 or higher to protect yourself adequately. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply according to package directions.

    Pace yourself

  • If you are unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually.

  • If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity, get into a cool area or in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, weak, or faint.


    End Results Health & Wellness has developed unique sports specific exercise programs to help prevent injuries from occurring in young Athletes. For more details about our Periodization Sports Specific Youth Athletic program contact us.


This article was written by Curtis Mann Co- Owner and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Information for this News Article was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Mayo Clinic.