Heat cramps: If you're sweating a lot, you're losing salt, water and electrolytes as you exercise; this can cause painful and involuntary muscle spasms in the arms, calves and abdomen. Hydrate immediately with water or electrolyte-infused sports drinks or tablets.
Heat exhaustion: Severe water and/or salt depletion can lead to weakness, excessive thirst, headache, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Heat exhaustion can also involve heat cramps. Drink plenty of fluids (not caffeine or alcohol), remove tight clothing and take a cool shower or bath. If cooling measures fail to provide relief after 15 minutes, get medical help.
Heatstroke: The most severe of heat-related illnesses, heatstroke can be life-threatening if left untreated. It causes the body's internal temperature to climb beyond 104 degrees, and the body loses its natural ability to cool off. Someone suffering from heatstroke may also have an altered mental state, throbbing headache, high temperature, rapid pulse and lose consciousness. Seek medical attention immediately while simultaneously cooling the body as quickly as possible with water and ice packs.
Dr. Lamos suggests a proactive approach to summer safety to help families avoid an unwanted trip to the hospital. Follow these tips to exercise safely in the warmer months:
- Stay hydrated. Run in public parks or on trails that have water fountains. If you'd rather go your own way, bring a bottle of water or wear a hydration pack, like a Camelbak.
- Make a plan. Avoid exercising outside when the sun is at its most intense, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Plan routes that are well-shaded or have cool areas where you can take a break if needed.
- Be prepared. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored, breathable clothing (like cotton) and a hat. Apply sunscreen generously at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, even if it is an overcast day.