Exposure to abnormal or prolonged amounts of heat and humidity without relief or adequate fluid intake can cause various types of heat-related illness. Children adjust more slowly than adults do to changes in environmental heat. They also produce more heat with activity than adults, and sweat less. Sweating is one of the body's normal cooling mechanisms. Children often do not think to rest when having fun and may not drink enough fluids when playing, exercising, or participating in sports.
Children with chronic health problems, or those who take certain medicines, may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Children who are overweight or wear heavy clothing during exertion, such as marching band or football uniforms, are also more susceptible.
There are three types of heat-related illnesses:
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat injury and consist of painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise and sweating in high heat.
Heat exhaustion is more severe than heat cramps and results from a loss of water and salt in the body. It occurs in conditions of extreme heat and excessive sweating without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself properly and, if left untreated, can progress to heat stroke.
Heat stroke, the most severe form of heat illness, occurs when the body's heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat. It is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
The following chart contains the most common symptoms of heat-related injuries. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. In addition specific treatment will be determined by your child's physician and may include some, or more, of the following:
|Condition||Symptoms||First-aid and treatment|
Some general guidelines to help protect your child from heat-related illnesses include the following:
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