THURSDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Summer is a time to be out and about, but it's also a time when high temperatures can take a big toll on health.
Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that from 2001 to 2009, almost 6,000 people annually were seen in emergency rooms for heat-related illness caused while playing sports or engaged in other outdoor activities.
"Because heat-related illness is a preventable illness, any number is too high," said lead researcher Ellen E. Yard, an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the CDC. Her team published a study on the problem in the July 29 issue of the agency's journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Their concerns are especially timely as many areas in the nation are suffering through record heat waves, with probably more blistering temperatures to come before fall arrives.
"You need to be proactive in protecting yourself from heat illness," Yard said. "If heat illness does occur, recognize it right away and treat it appropriately."
Yard said there are things that can be done to prevent heat-related illness, particularly for active people. First, drink lots of water when you are outside. In addition, try to limit activity to the coolest parts of the day -- early morning and late evening, she said.
"It's really important to pace yourself. Especially when it first starts getting warm, your body is not going to be used to that," she said. "You really want to slowly increase the intensity and frequency of your activity over one to two weeks."
In the study, the most common activities linked to heat illnesses were football and exercise. Most of the illnesses -- about 73 percent -- occurred among males. One-third of the illnesses were in teenagers.
Among women, the most common activities causing heat illness were baseball and softball for those aged 1
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