Thursday, September 9, 2010

Heat Illness is Preventable

Heat illness is preventable [period]. This also means that the associated complications that arise from a heat illness situation are also preventable. There is more to take into consideration than just temperature and hydration. With the proliferation of medications, dietary supplements and energy drinks, it is important to understand the effects and side effects of what the athlete is ingesting. Common side effects with many supplements and energy drinks include diuretic effects and increased core body temperature. This means that more emphasis needs to be placed on hydration and physically cooling the body. Heat illness and dehydration can also play a significant role in a condition known as exertional rhabdomylosis, a rare but serious condition resulting in increased levels of CK (creatine kinase) that may cause muscle and kidney damage. (Exertional rhabdomylosis is a major concern with athletes who carry the sickle cell trait.)

Knowledge of heat illness prevention and recognition is important knowledge for all levels of sport coaching. A football coach the state of Kentucky was arrested (also acquitted) for negligent homicide in the heat illness death of one of his athletes. Two Middletown, CT football coaches were charged with reckless endangerment (charges were also dropped) after an athlete collapsed from dehydration. While these cases resulted in the respective charges being dropped, this emphasizes the need to prevent preventable conditions such as heat illness.

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