Dehydrated kids at greater risk for heat-related illnesses.
The American College of Sports Medicine estimates that up to 2/3 of child athletes may be dehydrated during exercise. Much like an automobile radiator, children's bodies cool mostly through "dry" conduction and convection (not evaporation): the body sends warm blood to dilated surface vessels to release the heat to the skin. A dehydrated child does not have sufficient blood for cooling in the skin and the exercising muscles.
PositiveTip: The easiest way to determine hydration is the color of the urine--it should be the color of pale lemonade.
Nearly all heat-related injuries are preventable.
Summer has come with a vengeance in most of the U.S. Nearly all expected health-related injuries can be prevented.
PositiveTip: Things you can do to prevent a trip to the emergency room or worse:
- Drink plenty of water all day day--even if you are not thirsty.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothes.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity in the hottest parts of the day.
- Never leave toddlers or animals in a closed car.
A recent newspaper article highlighted the bravery of a 5-year-old boy who saved his grandfather's life. The old man had worked all day in the Florida sun without taking the time to drink anything. Over dinner his grandson noted that he looked pale and tired. By supper time, the old man was sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead, non-responsive. According to paramedics, the boy’s 9-1-1 call got help for his grandfather’s heat exhaustion and dehydration, probably saving him from a stroke or something even worse.
The moral of the story? Not just to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. The more important lesson is to drink adequate water or other fluids when working in high heat and humidity.
The Basics - Heat-related illnesses come in three varieties:
Small amounts of dehydration negatively influence cognitive performance!
More than 50 Tufts University male and female students from athletic teams volunteered to examine the effects of mild dehydration on cognitive performance. Each was assigned to complete team practices either with or without water replacement. Following cognitive tests, those in the "dehydration group" demonstrated higher negative mood ratings and confusion than the hydrated group. Those who had water replacement showed better vigilance and attention than the other group, as well. The amount of mild dehydration (1-2%) experienced by these subjects was similar to what many people experience in their busy, daily lives when they skip drinking sufficient water.
Replace fluids to prevent the consequences of dehydration during and after exercise.
Those who exercise vigorously need to follow a fluid replacement plan to prevent excessive dehydration (>2% body weight loss) to prevent early fatigue, cardiovascular stress, increased risk of heat illness and diminished performance.
PositiveTip: Replace fluids often and early during and after exercise--especially if you are in hot environments.