Tips for an athlete's best protection against heat

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The number one weather killer in the United States is heat.  Last year there was heat-related deaths in Texas and 94 across the United States.

Gary Diehm, Midwestern State University's head athletic trainer said preparing your body for the heat it key.

"Start spending time outside and get used to the heat," Diehm said.

For three days Elementary to High School aged football players attended the Bill Maskill Football Camp starting June 14.

Diehm said athletes should make sure they spend time outside even during the off season.

This prepares students for the tough days of August practices. He also said make sure you are drinking water on and off the field.

"Staying hydrated is really important to avoid some of the problems associated with heat exhaustion and heat stroke," Diehm said.

Staff Physician, Scott Myers with ER Now said cramps are one of the first signs that you need to hydrate.

"The first thing is if it's early you need to rest early and then that sometimes can save you a trip up here," Myers said.

He suggests taking frequent breaks in shade or air condition, and try to keep the physical activity limited to the morning and evening.

"Things to watch for are heavy sweating in higher temperatures, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, elevated temperature, that sort of thing," Myers said.

Resting with these symptoms should solve the problem. Myers said if you don't feel better after rehydrating for an hour in the shade it is time to come to an Emergency Room.

"We will run some lab work, check your electrolytes, and then we can replace your electrolytes with an IV solution up here which is much faster than you trying to replace them with a sports replacement drink," Myers said.

"The core body temperature can go from the normal which is 98.6 to 106 in 15-20 minutes," Diehm said.

Once symptoms are this extreme it becomes heat stroke. A very dangerous situation that can be prevented with water or Myers suggests sports drinks.

"When you sweat you use loose key electrolytes, sodium potassium that sort of thing," Myers said. "Those sports replacement drinks were designed for athletes to replace those and that's why they're, in my opinion, better."

Myers said a good rule to follow is if you feel tired take a break and hydrate.

Diehm tells his athletes to drink at least half of their body weight in ounces of water per day. Someone that weighs 200 pounds should aim for about 12 cups of water a day.

Myers also reminds everyone to check their medication warnings.

"There's some certain medications that are important to know so, if you're on certain blood pressure medicines like beta blockers or diuretics, those will tend to make you sick faster," Myers said.

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