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Summer Heat Holds Potential Danger for Young Athletes

SATURDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Eager young athletes will be taking to sports fields for practices and games this summer and they need to be protected from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, a doctor warns.

The most important way to keep them safe is "hydration, hydration, hydration," Dr. Toni Salvatore, medical director of the Pediatric Center at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, said in a hospital news release.

Drinking adequate amounts of fluid before, during and after a practice or game prevents heat-related illnesses by keeping blood volumes high to support circulation, Salvatore explained.

In hot weather, athletes should double the amount of fluid they would normally consume.

"So if you normally have an eight-ounce glass of water during a break, make it 16. Choose water and occasional sport drinks with added electrolytes for a serious athlete," Salvatore advised.

Among the other hot weather safety tips for child and teen athletes:

  • Keep in the shade whenever possible.
  • Take frequent breaks between practice drills.
  • Use a spray bottle to periodically mist the skin, or apply cool, wet cloths.
  • Eat a light, healthy meal a few hours before hitting the field.
  • Parents should inform coaches if their child has had any prior heat-related illness.
  • Apply, and reapply, sunscreen.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about dehydration.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Greenwich Hospital, news release, July 5, 2011

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