Next month, young athletes will be out in the heat to practice for the 2012-2013 football season. August often is the hottest month of the year.
ABC 33/40 news anchor, Linda Mays brings awareness of exertional heat stroke.
It's the third most common cause of death among high school athletes.
Education and prevention can make the difference between life and death.
Taking precautionary measures to tackle the heat and humidity before it tackles young athletes-- helps catch a potentially dangerous heat illness in its tracks. Exertional heat stroke can come with intense outdoor activity.
Dr. James Robinson is the Medical Director of DCH Sports Medicine and the head team physician for the Crimson Tide. He says, "Exertional heat stroke is the same constellation of symptoms that develop very quickly due to exercise and what happens is their temperature rises usually due to its core temperature is greater than 104 degrees and they usually have other symptoms usually confusion, staggering, inability to walk, or collapse even."
Health experts say, awareness of exertional heat stroke is essential, because the mortality rate is high. In the event of heat stroke, every minute counts.
Robinson says, "We know that if an athlete is cooled down within the first ten minutes , he has a 100% survival rate. The mortality rate increase tremendously just as time goes by so even 30 or 40 minutes the survival rate is less than 40%."
Exerting lots of energy while padded in layers in the hot sun isn't the only thing that puts young athletes at risk for heat illness. Other factors for heat illness include being overweight, being out of shape, recovering from illness with an underlying fever, and taking certain medications, including stimulants to treat ADD/ADHD.
Robinson says, "It masks their fatigue so they don't get as tired in the heat as you would so they're able to continue to go and it also does interfere with the body's way to get rid of the heat."
Illicit drugs and over the counter energy drinks are also reason for concern.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association implemented a few new rules this year to help keep athletes safe from EHS.
Robinson says, "They can't have two consecutive days of double day practices..so they can't have 2 full practices on same day 2 days in a row. And also on the days they do have a double practice, there's got to be at least four hours in between those practices."
Athletes must also take advantage of a chance to get out of the sun, and they can't skip a water break.
The state High School Athletic Association guidelines require football players be in shorts the first three days of practice.
It helps them get used to the heat.
Robinson says, "When humidity gets about 80% and the temperature is above 96% those are crucial numbers and difficult to cool somebody down."
For young athletes that are working a summer job and not exercising in the heat, Dr. Robinson advises them to take time to exercise in the heat; so, their body can get acclimated to it before practice kicks off in August.
He says, it take10 TO 14 days to get your body acclimated to the heat.
Also it's recommended that athletes start their water-intake before exercise-- 16 ounces of water, two hours before practice, and drink seven to 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes.
Then, after practice, for every pound dropped in weight, athletes need to replace it with a ''pint'' of fluid. So, drop three pounds, drink three pints of water.
According to the Alabama High School Athletic Association's web site the first fall practice date is August 6th.
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