LeBron James was sidelined for the last five, critical minutes of Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals. The reason? Heat cramps in his leg. The air conditioning in the AT&T Center was malfunctioning, which led to the problem. This clearly shows that not even professional athletes are immune to high temperatures.
What can happen? James was fortunate in a sense. While his team lost, he didn’t develop further problems heat can cause. Heat cramps are painful but easily treated. Heat exhaustion is worse, causing fatigue, faintness, dizziness, profuse sweating and a headache.
Heat stroke is worse. It is lethal, though if caught early enough, it is survivable. Heat stroke causes an intense headache, confusion, lack of perspiration, racing pulse, rapid breathing, and nausea and vomiting. It can also cause the victim to become unconscious.
How to prevent it: If you are exercising outside in hot weather, wear a broad brimmed hat. This will help shield you by providing an air insulation between the hat and your head. Light clothing is also wise. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Water is good, but if you are perspiring a lot, sports drinks are better. They provide the electrolytes your body is losing with perspiration.
If you notice any symptoms of heat, stop what you are doing and get into a cooler location immediately. You may not be the one to notice; sometimes it’s hard to tell when the heat is getting out of hand. That’s why hikers are urged to have a buddy. Someone can get you to shade, provide first aid and call for help.
What to do: This is critical. Aside from getting away from the heat, there are first aid things that can be done. If the patient is conscious, give sports drinks or water. Place cool cloths to the head, arm pits and groin of the patient. This will help cool them. Remove as much clothing as you can, and if possible, mist water over them.
Heat Stroke requires a visit to the emergency room. If you are very close, drive there. If not, call 911. The sooner professional treatment starts the better the outcome.
There is one other thing to consider. Unless you work in hot conditions, don’t exercise when it’s too hot. It is wiser to exercise early in the morning or later in the evening if/when the temperature goes down. If you don’t have an air conditioner and can’t afford a portable one, find a cooling center. This is one condition that is much better prevented than treated.