Physical Education - Heat stress
In Australia, heat is a problem associated with training and competition
in a wide range of sports. From a clinical perspective, heat exhaustion 
produces a picture of a heavily perspiring, very hot athlete, who may be
confused or disorientated to the point of needing assistance in finishing a
run or getting through a training session. It is usually associated with
dizziness, headache or nausea. Under such conditions the athlete has a
rapid pulse and if any urine at all can be passed it is extremely
concentrated (dark yellow).
This heat illness reflects an inability to dissipate heat being generated
within the body through evaporation  of sweat on the surface. The
treatment is to administer fluids and to cool the body rapidly, but gently.
Ideally, the sufferer should be taken into a cool, shady area, be sponged
down with cool water and be given liberal amounts of water to drink. If the
condition does not settle within 30 minutes to an hour, then medical
assistance, as a matter of urgency, is recommended. Intravenous fluids may
be necessary. It is strongly advised that alcoholic drinks, or drinks
containing caffeine (which is a diuretic  promoting fluid loss) should
not be consumed.
The more dangerous situation of heat stroke is an advanced stage of heat
illness. With heat stroke, the athlete completely loses the ability to
maintain normal body temperature. The afflicted athlete will be very hot
and have remarkably dry skin. He or she may experience shaking or
shivering. The sufferer is confused or delirious and often unable to walk
or move without assistance. Typically he or she will not be able to pass
As this condition worsens, convulsions and death follow. The treatment is
by urgent evacuation to a hospital for rapid cooling under supervised
conditions, with administration of intravenous fluids to protect against
kidney shutdown and further complications.
All coaches should be familiar with the signs of heat exhaustion  and
heat stroke and know what to do on suspicion of an athlete suffering from
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