Heat Illness – What You Need To Know & What You Need To Do

Heat illness in sport most often occurs when a participant exercises vigorously in hot conditions. It presents as either heat exhaustion (more common) or heat stroke (rare but life threatening).

Symptoms may include: light headedness, dizziness, nausea, obvious fatigue or loss of skill and coordination, unsteadiness, cessation of sweating, confusion, aggressive or irrational behaviour, collapse or ashen grey pale skin.

Heat illness can be prevented though by knowing the risk factors and applying preventive strategies to minimise risks.

Factors that can increase the risk of heat illness include:

·       high exercise intensity (e.g. exercising close to your personal capacity)

·       lack of fitness (e.g. exercising at an intensity or duration beyond your current capacity)

·       previous history of heat illness or heat intolerance

·       age – junior and veteran participants are at higher risk due to their age

·       illness and medical conditions (e.g. current or recent infectious illness or chronic health disorders at any air

·       high air temperature and high humidity

·       low air flow or movement (no wind)

·       prolonged exposure to hot conditions, heavy clothing and protective equipment (e.g padding)

·       lack of acclimatisation to being active in warm and humid conditions

·       dehydration

·       radiant heat from surfaces such as black asphalt, concrete or black rubberised synthetic surfaces can intensify hot conditions.

Exhausted runners breathing heavily. Heat illness can be a major problem for sports people during the hotter months.

For additional information on heat and summer sport, please see here.

And for further advice on how to cope with summer heat, please see SunSmart.