Protecting athletes from heat exhaustion

Protecting athletes from heat exhaustion

(WTVM) - Football season starts Friday around the Chattahoochee Valley, but that's also reason for concern.

The chances for players becoming sick due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke increase significantly during the month of August, according to a Columbus doctor who treats sports-related injuries.

As football players across the country take to the field to practice for the new season, one thing that has to be top of mind is safety.

Dr. Henry Ngo with the Columbus Clinic says proper hydration is key to avoiding heat exhaustion.

"Get plenty of hydration, plenty of rest in between and be sensitive to any changes the way the athletes look during practice," Dr. Ngo said.

Dr. Ngo says coaches and trainers have a big responsibility in helping to protect the players from heat-related injuries. He doesn't recommend starting players out with a full blast practice regimen from the get-go.

"The work schedule training schedule they have to increase it incrementally in a gradual fashion week to week of adjustments, week to week of increase," Dr. Ngo said.

During the drills and exercises, coaches should look out for changes in the way a player runs and skin tone.

"All of sudden they look a little bit pale, they feel like they may be dizzy, nauseous," Dr. Ngo said.

Dr. Ngo says these are all signs of heat exhaustion that can lead to the ultimate consequence for heat injury to the body– heat stroke.  That's when the body temperature reaches more than 104 degrees.

"The body has locked up the heat now and it won't give up any heat," Dr. Ngo said. "The organ system is getting harmed, the heart rate goes up, sometimes, blood pressure goes down you go into shock."

The complex problems can also lead to respiratory failure, and at that point, proper care is imminent.

Dr. Ngo says applying ice on the neck and armpits is the first line of defense until paramedics arrive.

Copyright WTVM 2016. All rights reserved.