Heat Related Illnesses

Updated Monday April 6, 2015 by Leopard Lacrosse.


One of the biggest concerns for lacrosse players is preventing heat injuries. Heat related injuries, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke are emergency conditions that need immediate treatment and medical care. However, such incidents can be prevented with a few simple steps.

Hydration:  In warmer weather, coaches will provide water breaks every 10 to 15 minutes.  Players should also bring and drink water frequently. If practices are expected to last longer than two hours, special breaks will be given for the players to consume fluids or approved sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade). Players susceptible to cramping should start consuming fluids/sports drinks well before physical activities start.

Hot Weather Dress: Players are encouraged to wear light-weight, breathable, non-dark clothing.  Use of 30-spf sunscreen or higher (50-spf) is also recommended.


What are Heat-Related Injuries?

Heat injuries manifest themselves in a number of forms, from mild symptoms to life-threatening conditions.

•           Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when a person uses or loses more fluid than they take in, and their body does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If they do not replace lost fluids, they will get dehydrated. Common causes of dehydration include vigorous exercise, especially in hot weather; intense diarrhea; vomiting; fever or excessive sweating. Not drinking enough water during exercise or in hot weather even if they are not exercising also may cause dehydration. Mild to moderate dehydration is usually treated by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. The safest approach is preventing dehydration in the first place. Players should keep an eye on how much fluid they lose during hot weather, illness or exercise, and drink enough liquids to replace what they have lost.

•           Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscle contractions, usually occurring in the calf or hamstring muscles. These contractions are forceful and painful. They are typically related to heat, dehydration, and poor conditioning. Treatment for cramps is simple:  rest, drink water, and a cool environment.

•           Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion stems from excessive heat and dehydration. Its symptoms can be detected in the appearance and activities of players during practice or a game. The range of symptoms includes nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation, and fainting spells. Heat exhaustion is treated by getting the person to a cool or shady environment, drinking liquids and applying cool water or ice to the body. Most people respond to these treatments, but prompt attention is necessary in order to prevent the condition from progressing to heat stroke. More severely heat-exhausted patients may need IV fluids, especially if vomiting keeps them from drinking enough.

•           Heat Stroke: Heat stroke, the most serious form of all heat-related conditions, is a life-threatening medical emergency. A person with heat stroke usually has a very high temperature (over 104 degrees) and along with the other symptoms above, may be delirious, unconscious or having seizures. These patients need to reduce their temperature quickly and must also be given IV fluids for re-hydration. Persons suffering from heat stroke need to be taken to a hospital as quickly as possible – although cooling treatments need to be started immediately and continue until emergency medical personnel can take over. In addition to applying ice, another effective form of cooling in this case is “evaporative cooling” where the person is sponged or misted with cool water, and fans are used to circulate the air around the person to encourage rapid evaporation.


Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses

Signs of Dehydration

•  Headache

•  Dizziness or Lightheadedness

•  Dry, sticky mouth

•  Thirst

•  Decreased urine output

•  Dark yellow urine

•  Sleepiness or tiredness

•  Dry skin

•  Constipation 


Signs of Heat Exhaustion

•  Heavy sweating

•  Weakness

•  Cold, pale, and clammy skin

•  Fast, weak pulse

•  Nausea or Vomiting

•  Fainting


If a player shows any signs of Heat Exhaustion, then the following should be done:

•  Move the player to a cooler location

•  Ask the player to lie down and loosen clothing

•  Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the player’s body as possible

•  Ask the player to sip water

•  If the player has vomited and it continues, then the player should seek medical attention immediately


Signs of Heat Stroke

•  High body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)

•  Hot, red, dry or moist skin

•  Rapid and strong pulse

•  Possible unconsciousness


If a player shows any signs of Heat Stroke, then the following should be done:

•  Call 911 immediately – heat stroke is a medical emergency

•  Move the player to a cooler environment

•  Reduce the player’s body temperature with cool cloths or bath

•  Do NOT give the player fluids