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Preventing Heat Illness In Athletes

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The fall sport season is underway and it seems high school athletes aren’t just battling the competition, they’re also facing the heat and humidity. So what can your athlete do to perform at the highest level through this heat at the big game?

"Heat stroke and heat illness is 100 percent preventable as long as you know signs and symptoms and know appropriate action," said Sanford Health Athletic Health and Performance Specialist, Dr. Thayne Munce.

Most athletes know they must drink enough water when they are playing the sport they love.

"It’s taking more water breaks, more rest breaks, perhaps decrease intensity can still make the quality of practice high," said Munce.

But what can your athlete do when their team can't afford a time-out and the breaks are limited?  Dr. Thayne Munce, An Athletic Health and Performance Specialist at Sanford Health says even if you are fully hydrated, you can still be faced with a heat illness, so  listening to your body is key.

"They can pay attention if it's more  fatiguing or if they are asking for more water and if they are slowing down their concentration," said Munce.

But fueling up on water is still one of the best preventative measures; it's something an athlete should do even days before the big game.

"Athletes show up properly hydrated, they should have done that last night and the week prior," said Munce.

Dr. Munce has some tips if you are unsure what type of fluid you need to keep hydrated.
He recommends water for exercise that's an hour or less. If it's over an hour, he recommends having a sport drink too.  

"People don't need to be afraid to go out and practice in the heat. If they pay attention to how athletes are performing, use common sense, they can have a lot of fun, perform well and be very safe while exercising in the heat," said Munce.

Dr. Munce says high school football players are the most at risk for heat related illness and fatalities, with an average of 2 to 3 deaths a year.

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