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Heat Illness

by | Aug 13, 2021 | Health Tips, Sports Medicine

With heat index temperatures >100°F in the surrounding areas, it is extremely important to stay hydrated and know the signs/symptoms of heat illnesses to be able to address them quickly if noted.


There is a wide spectrum of disorders under the umbrella term of “heat illness.” Mild (heat cramps) is associated with hand/feet swelling, cramps, mild lightheadedness/dizziness. Moderate (heat exhaustion) is associated with excessive sweating, fatigue, headache, nausea/vomiting, mild confusion, stumbling, irritability/agitation, rectal temperature between 100-104°F. Severe (heat stroke) is associated with worsening mental status change, rectal temperature >104°F, seizures, and death. Symptoms can progress rapidly and lead to death if not addressed timely and appropriately.

Risk Factors

  • Extremes of age
  • Exercising in hot/humid climates
  • Heavy uniforms/equipment
  • History of heat-related illness



If Mild: rest in cool area, oral hydration, massage/stretching cramping muscles

If Moderate/Severe: IMMEDIATE cold-water immersion (ideally ice water in a large tub with ability to fully submerge, but can be achieved with a tarp using the “taco method”), call 911 but do NOT transfer until rectal temperature is below 104°F.


  • Acclimatization to heat/humidity for 10-14 days
  • Light-colored/lightweight clothing
  • Hydration before/during/after activity
  • Review all medication with a physician
  • Avoidance of activity based on heat/humidity/level of training



If an athlete suffers a heat-related illness, they need to be evaluated by a physician prior to returning to play. History of heat-related illness is a risk factor for it occurring again.