Well, we are definitely in the dog days of summer and early fall!
School is back in session and I certainly hope we can all be smart about our choices so that the schools can stay open and the kids can enjoy all the school activities coming up. But one thing I want to talk about in kids is hydration and this heat!
Every month I see kids that have issues with not properly hydrating. And it’s not just athletes! If kids are not drinking enough water, then they can feel run down, have headaches, be dizzy and even pass out! I often times have parents say they drink a lot of water, but everyone is different and some need more than others. This is especially true for athletes who are outside at this time of year. Every summer and fall I see kids who are playing summer sports who have symptoms of overheating and it’s because they are not hydrated!
I encourage parents and kids to hydrate well in advance of their activity and not wait until they are thirsty during the practice or game.
Sometimes, if it’s too hot and humid, then these kids can have heat exhaustion or even worse, heat stroke. These can occur when the heat index gets above 100 and can be very dangerous. The heat index is a calculated value based on the temperature and the humidity. Basically we sweat to help cool our body and our core temperature is reduced as the sweat is evaporated off. When the humidity is really high, the sweat cannot properly evaporate off and our body doesn’t cool properly.
Signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke can include:
A higher than normal body temperature (>100 ° F).
Altered mental status.
Skin that is not wet from sweat.
Nausea and vomiting.
Headache and increased heart rate.
This can occur with anyone who is outside, not just athletes!
If you notice any of this, get the child into the air conditioning and slowly cool them down with water and cool rags on the back of the neck. While you are doing these things, call 911 or seek medical care immediately at the ER. In extreme cases, this can be fatal, so do not mess around!
So be safe in this heat until those wonderful fall temperatures arrive!
Robert L. Rux, M.D. is a Board Certified Pediatrician at Magnolia Springs Pediatrics. Originally from Mobile, he attended medical school at The University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB) and completed residency at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama (UAB). He is married to Jaime and has three children, Adler, Walker and Mary McAtee.