Knowing when to slow down — or call it quits
To determine when heat and humidity make strenuous exercise risky for young athletes, your child's coach might monitor the heat index or wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) — the standard index of temperature and humidity combined. If either measure is too high, outdoor athletic activities might need to be limited or canceled.
Spotting dehydration and other heat-related problems
Even mild dehydration can affect your child's athletic performance and make him or her lethargic and irritable. Left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Encourage your child to pay attention to early signs and symptoms of dehydration, including:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Excessive fatigue
- Disinterest in the game
- Inability to run as fast or play as well as usual
Remind your child that he or she should report signs and symptoms to the coach right away. Don't let embarrassment keep your child on the field.
If dehydration is detected early, fluids and rest might be all that's needed. If your child seems confused or loses consciousness, seek emergency care.
Prevention is key
If your child plays sports in hot weather, encourage him or her to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after practices and games. Teach your child the signs and symptoms of dehydration, as well as the importance of speaking up if they occur.
Involve your child's coach, too. Talk to the coach about adjusting the intensity of practice depending on the temperature and humidity on the field — and support the coach's decision to cancel games and practices when it's dangerously hot outside.
July 22, 2017
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- Bergeron MF. Hydration in the pediatric athlete — How to guide your patients. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2015;14:288.
- Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Council on School Health, et al. Policy statement — Climatic heat stress and exercising children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011;128:e741.
- Extreme heat and your health: Heat and athletes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/athletes.html. Accessed May 30, 2017.
- Casa DJ, et al. National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: Exertional heat illnesses. Journal of Athletic Training. 2015;50:986.
- Yeargin SW, et al. Epidemiology of exertional heat illnesses in youth, high school, and college football. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2016;48:1523.
- Parents' and coaches' guide to dehydration and other heat illnesses in children. National Athletic Trainers' Association. http://www.nata.org/practice-patient-care/health-issues/heat-illness. Accessed May 24, 2017.
- Somers MJ. Clinical assessment and diagnosis of hypovolemia (dehydration) in children. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 26, 2017.