From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health
September 26, 2019

Three ways to avoid heat exhaustion while tailgating

Steve Shelton, MD
Prisma Health–Midlands
Heat exhaustion is a common reason football fans visit the emergency room, especially early in the season. Emergency medicine physician, Steve Shelton, MD, said, “Heat is a major issue. It’s one of the leading causes of death for weather-related injuries. Heat is something that can fool us in the south, so it's important we stay on top of it.” 
 
To do this, Dr. Shelton recommends staying well hydrated. “Anything that’s caffeinated or alcoholic is not a great hydration source,” he said. “It can further dehydrate you. Folks need to be aware of that and look for signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.” 
 
Dr. Shelton said early signs of heat exhaustion include:
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
“If you develop any of those symptoms, you need to act quickly and try to find a cool spot. Air conditioning, if you can find it, but if not, a shaded area with fanning is helpful.” 
 
Dr. Shelton said there are three ways you can avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
  1. Plan ahead. Pregaming should include hydration, and hydration should be non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages. We prefer water or some type of sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade.
  2. Choose the right clothing. Wear something that is light and loose-fitting.
  3. Find a shady spot or cool area, especially if you start to develop any symptoms. 
“We see an increased number of folks who have not prepared well, and that’s unfortunate,” Dr. Shelton said. “Those folks often have to leave the game and do not get to enjoy the rest of their day. Some of them do progress to more complicated symptoms, such as heat stroke – a very life-threatening emergency. Those individuals start to get brain damage, they start to get confused, potentially even a coma, so that is a true life-threatening emergency and our emergency departments are there for those individuals.”


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