Beat the heat (stroke)

By Ashley Webb, Reporter

In Texas, summer temperatures are known to exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit on a consistent basis. With this comes the increased risk of heat strokes.

At football games, it’s especially important to protect athletes and fans from becoming overheated. Everyone involved with game days needs to be aware of their bodies.

“It’s important to stay hydrated before, during and after the game,” said Mark Roberts, a physician assistant at Central Texas Urgent Care in Waco.

The threat of heat stroke doesn’t end with the final play.

The elderly and people doing strenuous exercises, such as military soldiers, manual workers and athletes, are at higher risk of developing heat stroke during outdoor activities.

Detecting the symptoms of heat stroke can be difficult for those unfamiliar with the condition. Warning signs include throbbing headaches, a fast pulse, muscle cramps, dry skin and nausea, according to the Everyday Health website.

A normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but during a heat stroke, the body temperature can rise up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more, according to American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

A person suffering from a heat stroke will begin to sweat profusely, but when the body temperature reaches around 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the body will stop sweating. without the thermal outlet of sweating, internal body temperature increases. The cooling mechanism for the body starts to shut down, resulting in fever and sometimes unconsciousness.

Another cause of a heat stroke could be prescription medicines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of a heat-related illness can increase when people take psychotropics, medications for Parkinson’s disease, caffeine and diuretic medications, including those for high blood pressure. These medications can cause increased excretion of fluids from the body.

Even while taking medications or being outside, heat stroke is preventable.  The CDC suggests drinking two to four glasses of cold water each hour to stay hydrated during the hot weather.

Water is the best defense against heat stroke on game days. Staying hydrated during a game is the best way to stay cool.  Fans should remember to drink water, even if they aren’t thirsty.

The CDC also recommends wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothes, as well as sunscreen.

The Baylor University Golden Wave Band has already taken steps to prevent heat stroke in its members. Education about preventing heat stroke begins with the very first practice of the year.

“It is emphasized very heavily… [During band practice} we take very frequent water breaks. Every 20 minutes. They’re frequent enough to where I don’t check my watch and say ‘oh, we haven’t had a water break,’” said  Corpus Christi sophomore Luke Camarillo.

Even at football games, the band directors make sure that the marching band stays hydrated.

“During football games they pass out water bottles, and they actually pass out Gatorade in the third quarter.  We are very hydrated,” Camarillo said.

While drinking plenty of ice cold water at a game is beneficial, it’s good to know other ways to stay cool during a game.

Fans should also take advantage of the shade and take breaks in between quarters and bring misting fans. These will help control the body’s temperature from overloading.

In addition to  knowing what to do in order to prevent heat strokes, it’s equally beneficial to know what to do if a heat stroke  occurs.

Those affected by heat stroke need to be cooled down within 30 minutes of a collapse and then transferred by EMS, according to guidelines by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.  The cool-down can consist of a cool shower or placing ice packs on the body.

“A person should cool off and rehydrate immediately.  When they quit sweating or start vomiting, that’s an emergency situation and they should be brought to the hospital” Roberts said. “If a person is alone, they can get ice and put it under their arm pits and groin,” Roberts said.

Following these procedures will protect everyone at a game from having a heat stroke. Even with the excitement of the game, the late-summer heat will take a toll on the body. It’s essential for people attending the games to drink plenty of water and wear both sunscreen and caps or hats.