Three kinds of Heat Injury
When people exercise during intense heat, they are susceptible to heat injury. Youth and older adults are more susceptible to heat injury due to their reduced rate and amount of sweating. Everyone should know what the signs of a heat injury are.
HEAT CRAMPS are the mildest form of heat injury. Muscle cramps usually affect the major muscles that are being stressed during a hot environment and they are the earliest symptom of a heat-related illness. There may be profuse sweating with involuntary spasms of the large muscles in the body. Heat exhaustion may follow soon after, so immediate treatment is required. The treatment is to stop participating, stay out of the heat, cool the body, hydrate (preferably water), and stretch the muscles that are involuntarily in spasm.
HEAT EXHAUSTION is more serious and brought on by overexertion, a high heating rate and inadequate fluid replacement. The symptoms are muscle weakness; cold, clammy skin with ashen pallor; dry tongue and thirst; loss of appetite; profuse sweating; physical collapse with muscle fatigue and sometimes cramping; faintness or dizziness accompanied by headache or nausea. Treatment includes: staying out of the heat and administering fluids. Do not delay in seeking appropriate medical care.
HEATSTROKE is the most serious form of heat injury; it occurs when the body’s sweating mechanisms shut down. Symptoms are: skin becomes hot and dry, deep fast breathing, high core temperature, disorientation and unconsciousness. Treatment should be immediate: Lie down and loosen tight clothing. Sponge with cool water and fan body to reduce temperature. Administer fluids. Call an ambulance. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
Some tips for preventing heat injuries:
- Drink plenty of water while exercising.
- Do not over exert yourself.
- Make sure the room is well ventilated.
- Exercise at a slower pace in hot weather.
- Wear loose, lightweight cotton that breathes.
- Stay out of the sun when it is very hot. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.