Living in Southwest Florida, many of us know just how hot it can get outside during the summer. Dr. Brian Schultz, a pediatric emergency physician at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says heat related illnesses can happen suddenly, especially for children. “The first sign the child can exhibit can be fainting or collapsing, either because the symptoms came on that quickly for the child or the child didn’t recognize what was going on and was trying to push through it.”
When it comes to heat related illnesses, children’s symptoms may come on suddenly like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and perfuse sweating. “If they do notice those symptoms the important thing is to get them out of the heat immediately. Get them in shade and begin the cooling process,” said Dr. Schultz.
If kids are outside playing or being active, doctors recommend keeping water, sports drinks, ice, and cold cloths nearby to help cool them off. “Really taking frequent breaks to cool off, cool down, hydrate, preemptively hydrating is important,” said Dr. Schultz.
If children are exercising outside, it’s important they spend time warming up so their bodies can acclimate to the heat. “They have to take time to get used to the heat. Your body can take up to 7 to 14 days to fully acclimate to strenuous exercise in the heat. Especially also when kids are less conditioned they are at a higher risk of heat related illness,” said Dr. Schultz.
Doctors say it’s not just the heat, but also the humidity that can take a toll on a child’s body. “Both of those affect anybody’s ability to be able to release heat under strenuous exercise,” said Dr. Schultz.
It’s important kids don’t wait until they are thirsty to take breaks. “Preventative measures are by far the most important. It’s always easier and better to prevent something before it happens than treating it after the fact,” said Dr. Schultz.
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