Heat Injuries

When you train or play sport in hot weather, you expose yourself to a heightened risk of sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion – so it’s worth taking a few precautions. Read on for basic advice on how to recognise, treat and prevent various heat injuries.

Sunburn

Sunburn is probably the most common heat injury and frequently occurs in outdoor sports.  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be hot for sunburn to happen; direct or reflected sunlight can burn you whatever the weather.

Before you expose yourself to the sun, apply factor 50 sun cream and make sure you’re wearing a hat and appropriate clothing.  If you do get sunburned, you need to get out of the sun and cool the burned skin with an ice bag or wet towels.  Following this, you can apply moisturisers to the skin.  Don’t try to pop or pick at any blisters that may form.

 

Dehydration

Dehydration is when the amount of water in your body falls below normal levels.  This can happen quickly if you’re involved in physical activity in the heat.  Mild dehydration is not a medical emergency, and the first symptom is usually thirst.  Therefore, the basic advice for managing dehydration is pretty straightforward: if you feel thirsty, drink some water.

If dehydration becomes more serious, symptoms may include dizziness, headache, tiredness, cramps and dry mouth and eyes.  In this case, give the casualty fluids and have them rest somewhere cool and shady.  If despite drinking the symptoms get worse or fail to improve, seek medical attention.

 

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can occur if dehydration is allowed to go too far.  The loss of fluids and salts in the body causes a decrease in blood volume and blood pressure.  The casualty experiences extreme tiredness, may feel dizzy and sweat very heavily.  They need to immediately be taken somewhere cool to rest and given fluids.  Having them lie down with their legs elevated can also help.  If the casualty is able to cool down and get enough to drink, they should start to feel better within half an hour or so.  However, someone should stay with them throughout the recovery.

 

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a very serious condition that may develop after prolonged periods of dehydration and heat exhaustion.  However, heatstroke can also strike without warning.  Sudden cases of heatstroke are usually associated with undertaking strenuous physical activity (such as sport) in hot conditions.  Heatstroke affects the nervous system and causes the body’s temperature-control mechanisms to fail.  It is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Symptoms to look out for are dizziness, headache, very hot and dry skin and a body temperature above 40°C.  Heatstroke can also cause fits, hallucinations, confusion and loss of consciousness.

If you suspect someone has heatstroke do the following:

  1. Call an ambulance
  2. Move the casualty to a cool place and lie them down
  3. Remove as much of their clothing as possible
  4. Bring down their body temperature by spraying them with cool water and fanning them, or covering them in a cool, wet towel or sheet
  5. Continue to monitor their level of consciousness, pulse and breathing
  6. If they are conscious, give them water to drink
  7. Be prepared to begin CPR if they lose consciousness before the ambulance arrives

Thanks for reading.  Stay cool out there!

Physical Sports Limited sells first aid and medical supplies for the treatment of sports injuries. | www.Physical-Sports.co.uk | 01943 662 155

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