Fast facts about heat stress

July 21, 2011, 1:23 p.m. (ET)
Heat stress, from exertion or hot environments, places athletes at risk for illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion or heat cramps.
Heat Stroke is a condition that occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature and can cause death or permanent disability. Symptoms of heat stroke include: high body temperature, confusion, loss of coordination, hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, throbbing headache, seizures or coma. If you think you have heat stroke, seek immediate medical assistace. Move to a cool, shaded area and remove excess clothing and apply cool what to the body.
Heat Exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through sweating. Symptoms include: rapid heart beat, heavy sweating, extreme weakness or fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, irritability, fast, shallow breathing, slightly elevated body temperature. If you think you have heat exhaustion, find a cool area to rest, hydrate by drinking plenty of water and other cool beverages and try taking a cool shower or bath.
Heat Cramps generally affect athletes who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. Sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture levels. Symptoms include: muscle cramps, pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs. If you think you have heat cramps, stop all activity and sit in a cool place. Drink clear juice or a sports beverage. Avoid salt tablets and do not return to strenuous work for a few hours after cramps subside. Be sure to seek medical attention if the cramps do not subside within one hour.
Protect yourself in this sizzling hot weather by avoiding heavy exertion, extreme heat, sun exposure and high humidity when possible. When these can not be avoided, take the following preventative steps: Monitor your physical condition as well as your teammates for signs or symptoms of heat illnesses; Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing; Take more breaks in the shade or a cool area when doing heavier work and in high heat and humidity; Drink water frequently.