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Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Child Athletes


As the summer comes to an end and the kids head back to school, it may seem like a strange time to bring up the subject of heat exhaustion. But just because we’re heading into the fall months doesn’t mean the heat will miraculously disappear with the flip of a calendar page. With so many outdoor school activities and the temperatures still hovering close to the triple digits, heat-related illnesses are a major concern. And it’s important to remember that humidity can add to the heat index, so you can’t assume the risk is eliminated when the temperatures dip a bit.

If your child is on a sports team, cheerleading squad, or in a marching band; if family members like to attend practices and games; if you have plans to go to the annual State Fair of Texas or other outdoor fall festivals and events; be sure everyone is aware of the symptoms and treatment for heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is actually on a spectrum of heat-related illnesses that starts with heat cramps and ends with heat stroke—an extremely dangerous condition! Heat stroke can lead to brain damage and even death, so it is vitally important that you recognize when someone is exhibiting symptoms on the spectrum. These include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

When someone exhibits any of these symptoms, take action immediately. Stop all activity and move the affected person into a cooler environment. Then hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The body cools itself through sweating and the evaporation of sweat, so lots of fluid in the body in addition to cool dry air circulating across the skin allows the body to cool down. If nausea or vomiting prevents the affected person from drinking fluids, intravenous hydration may be necessary. Remember, when in doubt, seek medical attention immediately!

Come to Hillcrest Medical where we truly care about the health and safety of you and your family. And before you know it, you and your family will be back outside enjoying the fall season again!

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