Global warming can be felt more now than when they first introduced the theory years ago. In this blistering humidity, heatstroke and sunburn can be experienced quite often – most especially by active children. As concerned parents, we must take note of the main causes and look out for symptoms in order to react in a timely manner. This is why we have gathered a group of health experts to provide some insight on the topic.
Early warning signs of heatstroke
It’s not only a concern of feeling too hot but early warning signs of heatstroke can be as simple as getting very sleepy and thirsty, or as bad as feeling cold while it is hot out, getting headaches, feeling dizzy, nausea – all of which can sometimes lead to vomiting.
Dr. Anastasia Benson, physician and owner of Paradigm Family Health pointed out that as ironic as it sounds, lack of sweat is a cause for more serious concern and “is not an early warning sign anymore, it has gone too far. As soon as they stop sweating, that is not normal in a 100 degree heat”.
Craig Titsworth, coach and health teacher at Richardson Independent School District, adds that heatstroke symptoms include confusion or disorientation, seizure, hot skin that is not sweaty, rapid heartbeat, and having hallucinations. The biggest warning sign of dehydration, he says, mimics that of an actual heat stroke.
Common mistakes that lead to heatstroke
Many parents think that these symptoms are normal reactions to playing sports or simply being under the sun, and they can be, but having them continue activities even with the early warning signs can greatly increase the risk of getting a heatstroke.
“Pushing the kids too hard and assuming that they are just out of shape” is a common mistake, says Craig. A lot of times the child may really be out of shape, but the amount of water they did or did not drink throughout the day can affect them during a hot afternoon practice.
Whitney Stuart MCN RD LD, the brains behind blog whitnessnutrition.com with a masters degree in clinical nutrition, points out that “allowing the consumption of sweetened beverages in place of water” is another common mistake. She says to “focus on rehydration, first! Those liquid calories add up quickly, which is why they are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet. Most children consume an extra 150 calories or so from their daily juice/soda/sweet tea drink. In the summer, this amount tends to rise.” This is a cause for concern since sugar, just like salt, causes our body to dehydrate faster.
Activities that cause sunburn
Playing sports out on a field during a hot day is a common source. Although, our group of medical professionals agree that swimming is the main cause of sunburn. Specifically for two reasons:
- The water washes off sunscreen and most people would not think to reapply.
- We are generally distracted from the awareness of the sun and therefore get exposed to it much longer.
Long-term effects of sunburn
Upon hearing “sunburn”, one might think of the usual sun-kissed skin paired with a beautiful tan line that people indirectly show off to prove they just got back form a weekend getaway. What we fail to realize is that just by being under the heat of the sun for long periods of time can cause this effect. The more times you get sunburn, the more often your skin peels. This causes trauma to your epidermis, increasing your risk of developing scars and eventually getting cancer.
“Childhood sunburns can cause skin cancer as an adult,” adds Craig. “Children burned under the age of 5 have much higher risks of getting skin cancer as an adult. One burn can take 20 years to manifest itself into cancer.”
As parents, we want to provide the best care for our children and it starts with awareness. Knowing what causes dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn is the first step in prevention.
To learn how you can help them avoid these experiences, we have cited tips and practices HERE!