Addressing Exertional Heat Stroke
As our athletes train outdoors this summer, it is important to implement an
acclimatization routine for physical exertion in rising temperatures. By gradually increasing athletes' exposure to intense physical activity in a hot environment, heat exhaustion can be minimized and athletic performance can be maximized.
Exertional heat stroke is one of the leading causes of death among high
school athletes. Signs of exertional heat stroke include dizziness, fainting, vomiting, loss of consciousness, disorientation, confusion, diarrhea, loss of balance, irritability, and a core body temperature greater than 104°F. The main priority is reducing the athlete's temperature to 102°F (38.9°C) as quickly as possible. Cold-water immersion is considered the fastest and most efficient way to lower body temperature. Cold water dousing or wet ice towel rotation may be substituted in necessary cases, but it is not as effective.
EMS should be called immediately for an athlete experiencing a heat stroke. However, an athlete may only be transported to a hospital once he or she has been properly cooled. Athletes should not return to full activity right after experiencing a heat stroke. A period of no activity followed by a gradual return to low intensity exercise in a cool environment under supervision is required while recovering.
Casa, D., Guskiewicz, K., Anderson, S., Courson, R., Heck, J.,
Jimenez, C., McDermott, B., Miller, M., Stearns, R., Swartz, E., & Walsh, K.
(2012). National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement:
Preventing Sudden Death in Sports. Journal of Athletic Training, 47(1):