As football two-a-days kick off into high gear, the West Texas heat does not make practice easy.
The symptoms of heat-related illnesses can often go unrecognized, and players, coaches and parents need to be especially mindful of the warning signs.
“Those symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, [and] general fatigue but can progress to confusion, fainting,” said Dr. Brian Sorensen at Hendrick Medical Center. “When it reaches that point, then the symptoms are severe enough where they need to be seen immediately.”
Going untreated can lead to more serious problems such as heart, brain and liver damage.
Abilene Christian High School Head Coach Mark Coley said he trusts his players to come forward when they start feeling ill.
“We let the kids self-diagnose a lot,” Coley said. “We tell them if they start feeling dizzy or whatever, let us know. We let them go get water when they want to [and] usually give them enough breaks where nobody leaves a drill, but they can do that if they need to.”
Though heat-related illnesses are nothing to be ashamed of, Coley said he keeps an eye on players who may feel embarrassed to speak up.
“We kind of know which kids might do that and we'll watch them especially and if somebody seems to be having a problem, we'll ask them to go sit down in whatever shade we can find out there and drink water,” Coley said. “If it seems to be worse than that, we'll bring them inside where there's air.”
If you’re a football parent, keep an eye on your player’s energy level, pay close attention to their sense of balance and seek help if they stop sweating.
Players need to stay hydrated with water and electrolytes before, during and after practice, and stay away from caffeine.
The elderly and people who work outdoors for extended periods of time are also at risk for succumbing to heat-related illnesses. Prescription medications can also make people more vulnerable.