Thursday, 5 November 2015

What is heat illness?

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the common heat illnesses in sport. Heat exhaustion is the more common sports-related condition. If left untreated, it can lead to the life-threatening heat stroke. Athletes who are suffering from heat exhaustion collapse after exercise due to a post-exercise drop in blood pressure (postural hypotension). Athletes who show signs of altered mental function or collapse during exercise may have heat stroke. Sportsperson showing signs and symptoms of heat illness should be removed from the field immediately.

Symptoms of heat illness may include:
  •         Lightheadedness, dizziness.
  •         Nausea.
  •         Obvious fatigue.
  •         Cessation of sweating.
  •         Obvious loss of skill and coordination/clumsiness or unsteadiness.
  •         Confusion.
  •         Aggressive or irrational behaviour.
  •         Altered consciousness.
  •         Collapse.
  •         Ashen grey pale skin.

Heat illness occurs in strenuous sports such as runs of 10km and above or in activities with prolonged heat exposure such as golf and cricket. Athletes are at higher risk of heat illness in hot and humid weather. Hot and humid weather prevents adequate sweating and evaporation of sweat to lower the core body temperature. Heat illness may happen in cool weather with high-intensity exercises for more than 45 minutes. Long distance runners who push themselves close to exhaustion and run in a greater than training pace may be at risk of heat illness. Athletes tend to ignore the symptoms of heat illness to finish the run in a personal best. Low air movement or following wind in road running increases the risk of heat illness.


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