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Ask the Expert: How can athletes avoid heat-related health concerns?

Ask the St. Elizabeth Expert: How can athletes avoid heat-related health concerns? (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – There is a new push as the weather warms up to prevent heat-related injuries in student athletes.

“We still have about 10 athletes that die of heat stroke, mostly in football, every five years,” said Dr. Michael Miller of St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine.

There's a lot that can be done to get athletes ready for workouts in hot weather according to Dr. Miller.

He says before an athlete ever goes outside, training needs to begin inside with athletic trainers.

“We can train our bodies to get more efficient in heat,” said Dr. Miller.

He says athletes need at least seven days to ramp up training for warm weather. During that time, coaches should find out about pre-existing medical conditions in kids such as asthma or anything else that might make them more heat sensitive.

“I think we need to try to identify the kids that are at risk ahead of time,” said Dr. Miller.

Weather predictors of potential heat problems should also be monitored. Dr. Miller is a fan of the heat index, which is measured in the shade, and what's called the “wet bulb globe temperature,” which is measured in the sun.

“A heat index is basically a measurement of how warm it feels outside and it includes things like temperature and relative humidity,” said Local 12 Meteorologist Erica Collura. “It includes sun angle, cloud cover, and it also takes into effect wind, which the heat index value does not.”

Based on that data, hydration breaks, practice times and equipment then can be adjusted for safety.

At the Sports Medicine Center, they say if you have questions you can talk to an athletic trainer,

Athletes should ask their coach, ask their physician, and make sure that they realize that their needs may be different than another person’s that have a different size, a different age, or a different body type.

This is especially true when it comes to fluid intake according to Dr. Miller.

“There isn't just one size fits all fluid protocol, because everybody’s got different needs,” said Dr. Miller.

It's also suggested that students speak up if they notice another student is having heat related problems.

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