The heat at the last LA Marathon caused slow finish times and a lot of very tired runners. We had one heart attack in front of our Pacers aid station and I sent two runners to the hospital with heat exhaustion. There were two others who were advised not to continue. A Runner who did continue collapsed a mile later and spent two days in the hospital on IV fluids.
The combination of high heat, still air, hot asphalt and running are a deadly combination.
Tomorrow will be hot and the probability of heat injury is very real so I would like to review the symptoms of heat exhaustion with you. Ignore these symptoms and you may get heat stroke. This is deadly serious business folks so I hope you take a moment to read and know how to identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Muscle cramps
- Pale skin
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
Watch out for the somewhat confused runner who has been sweating a lot, feels a bit light headed or dizzy and is a bit nauseated. This runner is likely to be very tired and may have a headache. The skin is clammy white from profuse sweating. This runner has a cooling system that is stressed to its’ maximum limit.
A runner with Nausea, dizziness and muscle cramps is probably salt deficient.
Excessive thirst, weakness and headache are signs of hypo-hydration
Be watchful of the runner who is no longer sweating and their skin is red. They may have a weak thready pulse and their pupils are constricted. This constellation of symptoms is indicative that their cooling system is no longer able to keep up with the demand and they have stopped sweating. If you see this in your fellow runners, insist that they stop immediately and get treated for heat injury. Without treatment, death can ensue. If fainting occurs go to the emergency room without delay.
If you have these symptoms take the following steps to avoid more serious symptoms or heat stroke.
- Get out of the sun
- Go to a dry cool place, air-conditioned room or car is best
- Loosen clothing
- Cool damp cloths applied to heat areas, head, neck, arm pits, chest
- Cool shower or pool
- Drink plenty of fluids, if they are nauseated use continuous sips, not gulps
Have a great run and be safe. Be a good friend and look out for your running partners.
Dr. Steve Smith D.C.
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