Doctors offer tips to avoid overheating at football games as summer wanes

With fans packing stadiums for Saturday’s Auburn and Alabama football games, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be hot.

With thousands of people in close quarters and many of them drinking, medical professionals want you to make good choices when it comes to your health.

“Any big event, whether it’s a concert, whether it’s a football game, whether it’s a race at Talladega, you put a lot of people trying to have fun in the heat and you have multiple people getting sick each time,” said Dr. Matthew Delaney with UAB’s emergency services.

He says that if you get too hot, you should pay attention to your body’s symptoms. Signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion include nausea, confusion, a change in sweat, and chest pains. If you experience those symptoms, try to cool off immediately. You may even want to take a break indoors.

However, Dr. Delaney says it’s better to avoid overheating before it happens. To do that, drink plenty of liquids, but cap your alcohol intake.

“The effects of alcohol are greater when it’s hot, so maybe drink a little less than you normally would,” he said.

You should also try to stay in the shade as much as possible, and avoid the direct sunshine.

“It’s great to be excited and it’s great to have fun, but we just want people to use common sense,” Dr. Delaney said.

Bivins, Britany. “Doctors Offer Tips to Avoid Overheating at Football Games as Summer Wanes.” Alabama News Weather Sports Traffic. WIAT, 09 Sept. 2016. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.

Stay hydrated during preseason practice

The athletes playing football in this extreme heat, especially two-a-day practice sessions must think seriously about dehydration.

Coaches, captains and parents must encourage the player to increase fluids and be well hydrated by drinking before, during and again after practices.

The athlete who begins exercise with less than normal amount of body fluid runs the risk of adverse reactions to the cardiovascular system, body temperature regulation, and performance during the practice or game.

Athletes playing football can lose as much as 10 quarts of fluid during the sweat rate each day. Large losses of sodium and chloride occur when one sweats. These must be replaced during the practice sessions from day to day. The athletes should begin their strength training exercise conditioning before going out for preseason practices. This helps them to become acclimated to warm weather.

If one begins to exercise dehydrated, this will create the risk of heat illness and poor performance. The athlete should get into a habit of drinking at least 16 ounces of fluid in the evening, before retiring and another 16 ounces upon awaking to maintain fluid balance.

It is important to drink 16-32 ounces one hour before and another 16 ounces about 20 minutes before the training sessions start. One may get into a method of weighing oneself before and after exercise to make sure one has taken enough fluid to prevent dehydration.

At times, with heavy sweating, fluids that contain carbohydrate and small amounts of sodium chloride will be helpful in fluid and mineral replacement during the practices or competition.

If the athlete has the slightest sign of thirst, this is a warning sign of dehydration and possible heat illness. Drink at least 8 ounces every 15 minutes to replace fluid loss and 24- ounces for every l pound of body weight loss after exercise.

 

Weiss, Dr. Robert F. “The Running Doctor: Stay Hydrated during Preseason Practice.” Westport News. Westport News, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.

Playing it safe in the heat!

In case you haven’t noticed — it is hot! With participation in outdoor fall sports beginning, schools and coaching staffs are taking extra precautions to keep their athletes safe from heat-related issues. In recent visits to both area high schools, coaches and staff members were following strict guidelines to help ensure the safety of their players.
According to the National Weather Service, heat is a leading weather-related issue in the United States that results in fatalities or illnesses. With heat advisories popping up throughout the state, it is important to monitor the heat index, a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored together with the actual air temperature. During extremely hot and humid weather, the body’s ability to cool itself is challenged, which can result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even a heat stroke.

Cortney Bowers, certified athletic trainer for Colleton County High School, is cranked up for football season – meaning she’s on-duty during practice to help ensure the players’ safety. According to Bowers, South Carolina does not have actual heat regulations, but most athletic trainers within the state use a work/rest/water and continuous work/water consumption guideline made available by Fort Jackson.

“The guidelines are a way for us to categorize the temperature-vs.-work ratio to gauge when we should stop practice due to temperatures,” explained Bowers. “Athletes often don’t realize the toll heat takes on their bodies until they are suffering from a heat-related condition. As temps hit the high notes, I hit the water bottles and get out the Kestrel,” said Bowers. “The Kestrel is a dry-bulb/wet-bulb globe thermometer which measures temperature, humidity and heat index. It will work standing in the middle of a football field.”

Bowers is also charged with helping keep the players hydrated during practice. “I try to keep every player as hydrated as possible throughout practice, with plenty of water on the practice field,” said Bowers. “I have 18-20 sets of water bottles, so each coach has two sets of their own in groups. I have two 20-gallon water boys that I use on opposite sides of the practice field. The linemen, who tend to be bigger, have 4-to-5 sets of bottles and a 20-gallon water boy to help keep them hydrated. Last year, we had a continuous feed water boy purchased for us, which enables me to put ice in the chest and plug it up to a water hose for a continuous flow. On standby, I have 7-8 ten-gallon coolers filled with just ice to replenish the smaller water boys as needed and keep a seven-gallon cooler with towels, ice, water and ice bags in it for emergency.”

The Cougars will go full gear on Wednesday, which means Bowers will be going a step further in her preparation. “Once we put pads on, I will have a tent on the sidelines,” said Bowers. “I’ll keep the water under the tent and have tubs set up for emergency cold soaks or just for the guys to take a nice dip after practice. I also have the whirlpool inside that is ready to go if needed.”

According to Bowers, part of staying safe in the dangerous heat begins before athletes step on the field. “I preach to these kids to drink lots and lots and lots of water,” she said. “Although some Gatorade is acceptable, nothing beats water. Gatorade, which is heavy in sugar, can actually cause cramping. So, I always tell players if they drink Gatorade, fill the empty bottle back up with water. It is also very important to eat in the mornings before practice — whether it’s eggs and bacon or a peanut butter sandwich, it gives them the necessary energy for practice and helps reduce overheating. Dressing in loose fitting, comfortable clothing or heat gear, is another component to staying cool.”

The State of South Carolina has mandated that all coaches take an annual test through the National Federation of State High Schools on heat illness prevention, concussions and sudden cardiac arrest. This precaution allows coaches to know the signs and symptoms and to both stay educated and help educate.
“With coaches and athletic trainers understanding what to watch for, it means more eyes to watch for signs and symptoms, which is better for our athletes,” said Bowers.

 

Crosby, Cindy. “Playing It Safe in the Heat!” Walterboro Live. Walterboro Live, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Aug. 2016.

 

 


Preventing Heat Stroke in Young Athletes

Staying hydrated throughout the day is best for teen athletes.

Conditioning for fall sports, like football, cross country and even marching band, has started but research shows that heat-related deaths are behind most indirect deaths in high school sports. Parents need to make their athlete take it slow when starting outdoor workouts and be aware of the dangers.

Heat exhaustion happens when the body’s natural cooling system gets tired from working too hard. Symptoms include fatigue, profuse sweating, dizziness and decreased exercise performance.

“When an athlete notices these symptoms, it is time for a break to cool off,” says Dr. Lora Scott, medical director of sports medicine at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Sometimes ten minutes at the water cooler is enough. Other times, they may need shade or air-conditioning for several hours. They are at higher risk of getting sick again for 24 hours.”

Heat stroke happens when the body starts to shut down because it is too hot. If nothing is done, the person will die. An athlete with heat stroke may look like they have heat exhaustion, but they also start to have nervous system symptoms. These could be mild, like confusion or a short temper. They could be more serious, like seizures or loss of consciousness.

“Cooling within 30 minutes is the best predictor of life or death, in this situation,” says Dr. Scott. “Call 911 and do whatever it takes to cool them off fast.”

Heat stroke prevention day is July 31, one day before official practices for many sports begin. It’s a good time to review these tips.

Allow time to adapt. “Let kids start with easy outdoor training sessions to give the body time to adapt,” says Dr. Scott. “They may not be able to do their usual workouts when they move from the indoors to the outdoors. That is OK. Give it time.”

Stay hydrated. “Elite athletes can sweat up to four liters per hour!,” says Dr. Scott. “It is not practical to drink four liters in an hour, so practicing good hydration all day is important.” Drink until urine is colorless or very light yellow.

Listen to your body. If you feel overworked, it means your body is not ready for this level of exercise in this level of heat. You either need to cool off, or ease up on the exercise, or both. Take the time to condition safely.

Educate coaches. Make practice easier on the hottest days or move it indoors. Give the team unlimited access to water.

Take a collapsed athlete seriously. Make sure you are following the American College of SportsMedicine’s guidelines on length, intensity and frequency of practice.

Treat suspected heat stroke.

If an athlete acts strangely, think heat stroke. “Call 911 and cool them off immediately,” says Dr. Scott.

“Place them in a tub of ice water, pour water from a cooler over them, put ice packs on their neck, armpits and groin, use a garden hose if you have to. This is a life-or-death situation, and treatment is easily available and free.”

 

Dayton Children Hospital. “Preventing Heat Stroke in Young Athletes – Athletic Business.” Athletic Business. Athletic Business, 27 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.

Pediatric health educator provides tips for protecting children from heat stroke

Hot temperatures and high humidity can put nearly anyone at risk for dehydration and heat stroke, but children are especially vulnerable.

A deadly phenomenon seen every summer is children being left in or becoming trapped in hot cars. These tragedies don’t just happen during heat waves. The temperature in a vehicle can quickly reach deadly levels on a 70 degree day, even with the windows cracked. Nationwide, 16 children have died in hot vehicles already this year, which is double the number from last year at this time.

“This is really concerning because it is a tragedy that is totally preventable and often the fault of the primary caregivers,” said Emmy Sasala, a health educator in the Pediatric Trauma and Injury Prevention Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

In some cases, exhausted new parents may have a change in routine that causes them to forget that their infant is in the back seat of their vehicle.

“It’s not something most people would ever think could happen to them,” she said. “Most people are aware that it’s never a good idea to leave a child in a car, but you can get so distracted or tired that your mind loses focus on your child.”

Sasala suggests putting a sticky note on the steering wheel or important items such as your purse or cell phone in the back seat as extra reminders to check back there before leaving your vehicle. She also encourages passersby to take a second glance in the window when they see a car seat in the back of a parked car to make sure it doesn’t still have a child in it.

“That’s a case where you don’t want to mind your own business,” she said. “Call 911 if you find an infant or young child that has been left alone in the car, and if they appear to be in distress, get them out.”

In other instances, children have gotten into an unlocked parked car while exploring or looking for a toy and then couldn’t get back out.

“Even if you don’t have children, there could be kids in the neighborhood who could wander into your car, so always lock your vehicle, even when it is in your driveway,” Sasala said. “And if you have toddlers and can’t find them, always check the pool first, then the car.”

Older children are most at risk of heat stroke when involved in organized outdoor activities on steamy summer days.

Although most elementary-aged children will stop playing and complain of thirst or tiredness when they become overheated, some older kids involved in organized activities may feel pushed by peers or coaches to continue.

A lot of attention has focused on football, a sport for which pre-season practices typically begin in August, one of the hottest months of the year. Pennsylvania’s state athletic association, the PIAA, now has a policy that athletes must complete an acclimatization period of three days when starting back for the season with limited gear and shorter practices.

“You want to get them used to exerting themselves in the warmer environment and gradually ease them back into it,” Sasala said. “Even if your child is just going to tennis camp for a week, you’ll want them to do some activity outdoors in the days leading up to it so their body can get used to it.”

Staying in the shade when possible, taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated with lots of water can all help prevent the lightheaded feeling, dizziness and muscle cramps that can be early signs of dehydration or heat stroke. Avoid sugary drinks, as water is often the best choice. If a young athlete engages in intense physical activity lasting more than an hour, sports drinks may be a better choice.

Kids who play outside can get so involved in what they’re doing that they may ignore their thirst or forget to take breaks. Parents can help by encouraging breaks for rest, shade and water every 15 minutes or so on hot days and by dressing the children in light-colored clothing so their body doesn’t heat up as fast.

Sasala recommends that parents make sure cold water is always available for their children, planning ahead for trips to outdoor events by bringing their own water bottles.

“Being prepared for the heat and taking steps to keep the body cool and comfortable will help everyone enjoy the summer weather safely,” she said.

 

“Pediatric Health Educator Provides Tips for Protecting Children from Heat Stroke.” News-Medical.net. News Medical, 07 July 2016. Web. 08 July 2016.


You and hydration

This last week, we had a taste of very hot weather and many of you kept a full training schedule of cycling or running as you prepare for the many upcoming races. One of the most important aspects of leading an active lifestyle is staying hydrated while competing, keeping fit or having fun.

Dehydration can be a very serious problem for athletes and active people who spend a lot of time in the heat and the sun. When we are active, roughly 75% of the energy we expend during exercise produces internal heat. Our bodies are designed to regulate our internal temperature, so to do this, we perspire and also remove heat through exhalation. These mechanisms, which keep our body temperature in balance, tap our internal fluids and we often forget that 60% of our body is made up of H2O.

When you add environmental factors into the mix such has hot weather, humidity or arid climate, our bodies are put under a lot of stress to keep the balance of heat exchange and regulation. Even though we link dehydration together in the context of hot temperatures only, our dry somewhat arid regional environment also creates significant fluid loss, even when temperatures are less extreme.

It is very important to remember that hydrating your body is a constant requirement. You can’t drink 16 ounces in the morning and hope that keeps you all day. Once your body falls behind during exercise and activity, most people cannot catch up to keep their body at peak performance. For an athlete doing a triathlon, marathon or physically demanding competition that lasts longer then 2 hours, falling behind usually means disappointment, failure in a event and can lead to a serious health emergency.

So what is the right amount of fluid you should intake while being active or during exercise?

For now, I am going to stick with water as our fluid of choice since sport drinks and other beverages come with pros and cons that can impact your hydration process. The overall basic rule of thumb for water intake is 16 fluid ounces every hour. For daily non-active water intake, you should drink 1/2 ounce for every 1 pound of body weight in 24 hours. I am guessing that for most of us whether we are active or not active, we never get enough hydration.

Now 16 oz every hour during physical activity is an estimated average and will vary from person to person. A better way to define a person’s water intake requirement during exercise, athletic competition and elevated activity is to track your water intake and your body weight. By measuring your weight before and after physical activity along with the ounces of water consumed, you can get your individual rate of fluid lost so you can set your own fluid consumption. Now keep in mind, this is really only useful for extended physical activity that lasts over 2 hours or shorter events being done under harsh environmental conditions such as high temperatures.

The more active you are, the more water is lost via perspiration, breathing and urination. If inactive people should consume ½ ounce of water per body weight, very active people should consume up to 1.7 ounces per pound of weight. A person weighing 120 LBS being very active during warm weather may need 144 ounces of water in a 24-hour period for example. Also keep in mind food plays a role in hydration, so depending on the type of foods you eat, they can help provide part of the daily fluid requirement. When eating fresh fruits and vegetables, for example, you are resupplying your body with much needed nutrients along with water. Remember that the more water dense foods you consume, the quicker it digests.

Approach your hydration protocol by planning around the activity or athletic event. It is critical to have access to water, so you need to either have enough on-hand or know you will be provided with enough based on the activity or type of event. This is one area most people under estimate what they think they need verses the actual reality around the intensity of activity, temperature and other factors out of their control. Having access to more is always the best practice.

One great example of meeting hydration needs comes into play with events such as a half or full marathon. Race organizers will have water stations positioned with proper frequency on the course to fully cover all runners. On average, this works out to be one water station every 1.5 miles. Some full marathons will have water stations every mile so you can consume fluids at smaller volumes and at a convenient pace based on your body’s need and environmental conditions. The other aspect that I have not touched on for athletic events is the use of salt tablets and gel packs, which can give you much needed carbohydrates and electrolytes to maximize your endurance and also help reduce the chance of dehydration. Many elite athletes do not rely on course resources and carry their own water. If you choose to do this, you must factor in the convenience and feasibility of that decision.

Finally, any good hydration protocol will include a post-exercise or post-activity fluid replacement plan. Rehydration after your activity is key and can make a big difference regarding your physical recovery and healing process. Your body needs rehydration to correct any fluid loss accumulated during the activity or event. The best rule of thumb is to slowly rehydrate within the first 2 hours after your activity or event. Your body will process and rehydrate more efficiently by drinking smaller, more consistent amounts of fluids during your cool down and recovery period within that two-hour post event window.

 

Jones, Judd. “You and Hydration.” Columbia Basin Herald. Columbia Basin Herald, 10 June 2016. Web. 15 June 2016.

 

 

 


Simple steps help prevent deaths during youth sports

A few key policy changes can reduce sudden deaths during middle school and high school sports activities, according to a best practices statement in the Journal of Athletic training.

More than 90 percent of sudden deaths in sport are due to sudden cardiac arrest, exertional heat stroke, head injuries and exertional sickling, the dangerous decrease in blood flow that can occur in athletes who carry the sickle cell trait, the authors write.

Evidence based safety policies like heat acclimatization, sickle cell trait testing, the “Heads Up Football” program and requiring that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) be available can reduce the risk of all four events.

“These efforts are really starting to pay off,” said Dr. Barry P. Boden, a sports medicine specialist at The Orthopaedic Center in Rockville, Maryland, who was not part of the new statement.

“A lot of them are really just education, not much more than that,” Boden told Reuters Health by phone. “It still takes some time and effort but there’s really no excuse.”

Heat acclimatization policies mandate that in the hottest months of the year, athletes only gradually return to sports practices and exertion. The Korey Stringer Institute recommends no more than one practice per day in the first five days and no more than three hours of practice per day, with athletes wearing only a helmet, if appropriate, and no other extra equipment on day one and two of practice. All protective equipment can be worn and full contact can begin on day six.

In the second week of practice, two-a-day sessions should alternate with one-a-day sessions. For two-a-day practices, the two sessions should be separated by at least three hours in a cool environment.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association implemented heat acclimatization guidelines like these in 2003, and since then heatstroke-related deaths have dropped from one or two deaths each August before the policy to only one August death since 2003.

The policy saved an estimated 20 lives among college football players, the authors write.

“Heat acclimatization costs absolutely no money,” said coauthor Douglas J. Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

 

 

“Simple Steps Help Prevent Deaths during Youth Sports | Fox News.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.


The Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

By LAUREN WEILER

You’ve heard it again and again — drink water instead of juice, soda, or sugary sports drinks, and drink plenty of it. While the typical water-consuming mantra has always been to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (totally 1.9 liters), you’ll actually be needing a bit more than that to stay on top of your hydration needs. The average man should be drinking around 3 liters, or 13 cups of water a day to stay hydrated according to Mayo Clinic, and this amount can even increase depending on your daily activity levels. You should also consider all of the different ways you lose fluids in a day through breathing, perspiring, and going to the bathroom, so replenishing what you lose is incredibly important in maintaining optimal health. While it may seem excessive and chore-like to constantly consider your water intake, having enough fluids in your body is vital for proper organ function, metabolic health, hunger control, and achieving healthy energy levels.

If you find that you’re fatigued halfway through your workout or your workday, you may want to reach for a glass of water over coffee or caffeine-laden sports drinks. Whether you realize it or not, you may be dehydrated, and dehydration can lead to fatigue, says Authority Nutrition. Athletes in particular are prone to becoming more dehydrated than others — it is not uncommon for athletes to lose anywhere from 6 to 10% of their water weight through sweat during their workouts, and performance levels can suffer when athletes lose as little as 2% of their water weight.

Going into a workout without the proper amount of water in your system can lead to changes in the way your body regulates temperature, a lack of motivation to complete all of your reps, and the illusion that your workout is a lot more difficult than it really is in both a physical and mental sense. Because muscle is roughly 80% water, you need to give water back to your muscles when they’re hard at work, as this will keep your reps consistent and your body prepared for workouts that are longer and more difficult.

While water is great for keeping energy levels high during your workout (and outside of the gym as well), staying hydrated is also the key to maintaining that your organs are functioning as well as possible. Men’s Fitness states that water speeds up the metabolism and flushes out toxins from your body, ensuring that your organs can function with efficiency. Even the simple act of keeping your mouth and nose from drying out is from proper water intake, and processes like digesting food, circulating the blood, and lubricating and cushioning joints are supported by staying hydrated.

Drinking water also helps protect the brain, the blood, and the spinal cord while keeping these sensitive areas moist. And don’t forget about the benefits that water has for your memory and productivity — drinking a glass of water while doing office work can give you the extra boost of energy and focus that you may need to complete tedious tasks.

Everyday Health also explains how proper hydration keeps your insides working optimally by assisting in the excretion of waste through urinating, perspiring, and defecating. Your kidneys, your liver, and your intestines utilize water to flush out waste, and staying hydrated can even lead to relieving symptoms of constipation. With that being said, water is also great for digestion in general — when you consume soluble fibers, water can help the fibers dissolve easily, which eases the digestion process. Because your digestive system needs your saliva and water to assist in breaking down foods and dissolving nutrients for your body to absorb and benefit from, it makes sense that drinking water can ease this process and assist your body in the food and particle breakdown.

Water also greatly benefits the skin, your body’s largest organ. Certain toxins can cause inflammation, which can directly affect the clarity of your skin. If you’re looking for a quick way to clear an acne breakout, consider drinking a few more glasses of water a day to reduce the risk of any inflammatory skin disorder. And, because your digestive health and your skin health are linked, you may drink more water to help with your digestion and experience clearer skin as an added bonus.

Though you may be reaching for low-calorie protein shakes and calorie-controlled portions to reach your weight loss goal, Greatist says that water is a key component to staying trim and feeling fuller for longer. Adding a few more glasses of water a day to your daily diet can help keep you satiated and boost your metabolic rate — not only will you be cutting back on calories, but you’ll also give your metabolism the extra boost it might need. According to this study, drinking a little over two cups of water extra a day can increase your metabolic rate by 30% for up to (or slightly over) an hour. You should also consider what time you’re drinking your water as well — drinking water a half hour before your next meal is appropriate so that you feel satiated before beginning to eat, which will lower your calorie intake overall.

Though the best way to stay hydrated is from drinking water from the glass, you can also eat more foods that naturally contain more water. Health states that nearly 20% of your daily water intake comes from solid foods anyway, so consider adding more cucumbers (96.7% water), iceberg lettuce (95.6%), radishes (95.3%), tomatoes (94.5%), watermelon (91.5%), and strawberries (91%) into your diet. If you’re finding it difficult to get more of these fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, then consider adding in cucumbers, lemons, or herbs to your drinking water for additional digestive health boosts and anti-inflammatory effects.

Having trouble keeping up with how much water you’re drinking? A general rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water as you’re eating each meal and between every meal that you have. If you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow in color, you’re most likely pretty well-hydrated, and though it is possible to experience health complications associated with drinking too much water, most healthy adults who eat an average diet will not need to worry about this ever becoming an issue.

 Source: Weiler, Lauren. “The Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water.” The Cheat Sheet. N.p., 06 Dec. 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Are deaths increasing in high school football?

By DR DAVID GEIER

Tyrell Cameron. Ben Hamm. Evan Murray. Kenney Bui. Rod Williams. Cam’ron Matthews. Andre Smith. Luke Schemm.

These are all young athletes who have died this season playing high school football.

Deaths in a sport can be classified as either direct or indirect fatalities. Direct fatalities are those that result from football itself, such as a player suffering a broken neck tackling an opponent. Indirect deaths result from exertion while playing. Examples include heat stroke and cardiac deaths.

From available media reports, it appears that most of the young athletes listed above died from events directly caused by football. They died from brain injuries, cervical spine injuries or a lacerated spleen.

If these reports are accurate, then at least six of the deaths this fall are directly related to high school football. Add these to the eight deaths in 2013 and five in 2014, and this three-year period marks the highest total since 1986-1988, according to Jason Lisk of The Big Lead.

Whether or not this recent spike in fatalities is part of a trend or just an aberration remains to be seen.

Dr. Frederick Mueller, the former director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, explained to me that in the 1960s and early 1970s, 25 to 30 athletes died each year as a result of head and neck injuries. In 1976, football banned spear tackling, which involved leading with the head or helmet. That change helped to dramatically cut fatalities in the sport.

According to data from the NCCSIR, 26 high school football players suffered deaths directly related to the sport between 2003 and 2012, or about three per year. Nineteen direct fatalities have occurred from 2013 through the end of the 2015 season, which appears to be a significant increase. It’s possible, however, that increased media coverage and the proliferation of social media has helped to publicize deaths we might never have heard about in the past.

While it’s hard to conclude that deaths in high school football are becoming more common, it is clear that we aren’t making much headway in preventing them either.

Part of the problem could be the evolution of the sport at the high school level and the athletes who play it. Kids start playing competitively at a much younger age, so the high school game is played at a higher level than ever. Plus the athletes are bigger, faster and stronger and deliver hits with more force than they did decades ago.

More worrisome, though, are the deaths indirectly related to football. There were 62 indirect fatalities between 2008 and 2014, according to NCCSIR data. Most deaths from heat stroke, sickling in athletes with sickle cell trait and heart issues can be prevented with rapid and appropriate medical response in the first few minutes. Yet these deaths seem to be rising.

I don’t present these statistics to scare anyone. The simple fact is that kids die playing football.

You might look at that number — six deaths directly caused by football this year — and think that it isn’t many when 1.1 million kids play high school football. Or you might be a parent who decides it is far too high.

We need more research on high school football deaths and new strategies to prevent them. Would creating more protective helmets make a difference? Would teaching proper tackling techniques help? Yes, we need those efforts and much, much more. But the last 40 years have shown us that we aren’t making much progress.

Football is more popular than ever, and kids want to play. Parents will have to decide if six deaths a year is an acceptable risk for their children.

Dr. David Geier is an orthopaedic surgeon in Charleston. For more information about football injuries and other sports medicine topics, go to drdavidgeier.com.

Source: Geier, David. “Are Deaths Increasing in High School Football?” Post and Courier. N.p., 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.


Beat the Heat: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

By AUSTIN WELLS

With the recent weeks bringing some of the hottest weather Texas has seen all year, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall reminds community members of the importance of keeping hydrated – especially those who plan on spending a lot of time outdoors.

For parents, it might often be difficult to tell if a child is suffering from dehydration or heat exhaustion, particularly if the child happens to be enjoying some swim time at the pool.

Dr. Clint Lowry – who works within the Texas Health North Rockwall Emergency Room located at2265 N. Lakeshore Dr.– said some of the major signs and symptoms of dehydration to look for include increased respiratory rate, vomiting and headache.

According to Dr. Lowry, the elderly and very young of age are at a higher risk of suffering a heat-related illness such as a heat stroke or dehydration when exposed to hot temperatures for long periods of time.

“Elderly patients – particularly if they have underlying heart disease or are on a lot of medications – may be prone to experiencing heat exhaustion and heat stroke sooner than younger, healthier patients,” Dr. Lowry said. “The same could be said for the very young, who may not physiologically adapt as well in extreme heat conditions.”

For someone who’s severely dehydrated or suffering from severe heat exhaustion and must be taken to the ER, the staff within the North ER will always first check the individual’s electrolyte levels and renal functions (the state of the kidneys), both of which Dr. Lowry said are very important when it comes to treating heat-related illnesses.

“Checking electrolytes and renal function would be the minimum workup, potentially much more depending on how the patient feels and what their adjoining medical problems are,” he said.

The most important thing an individual can do to combat the heat would be to hydrate with the proper fluids before venturing out into the sun. Liquids such as water or electrolyte-replenishing drinks such as Gatorade or PowerAde are much better choices than diuretic drinks containing caffeine and alcohol which can increase urine output, causing you to lose more fluids.

“Preventing dehydration really starts before you leave the house,” Dr. Lowry said. “Make sure you’re well hydrated before you get out in the heat.”

Source: Wells, Austin. “Beat the Heat: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration.” Blue Ribbon News. N.p., 11 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.