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Heat Reactions: Prevention

There are three main reactions a child might have to a hot environment: heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. All heat reactions are caused by an excessive loss of water through sweating. To prevent your child from having a heat reaction, follow these suggestions:

  • Make sure your child drinks a lot of cool water whenever she is working or exercising in a hot environment. Water is ideal for replacing lost sweat. Very little salt is lost in sweat. Special glucose-electrolyte solutions such as Gatorade offer no advantage over water unless your child has been exercising for over an hour.
  • Have your child take 5-minute water breaks every 25 minutes in the shade. Teens should drink 8 ounces every 30 minutes. Encourage your child to drink water even if he is not thirsty. He may not feel thirsty until he is almost dehydrated.
  • Don't give your child salt tablets. They are not necessary. They also slow down stomach emptying and delay the absorption of water, which the body badly needs.
  • Dress your child in a single layer of light-colored, lightweight clothing. Your child should change clothes if they become wet with perspiration.
  • Athletic coaches recommend that exercise sessions be shortened and less vigorous if the air temperature is over 82 degrees F (28 degrees C), especially if the humidity is high.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends in a hot tub to 15 minutes. Encourage her to have a friend with her in case either of them should have a heat reaction. Children who have fevers or have just exercised vigorously should not go into hot tubs or saunas. Their bodies need to release heat instead of getting hotter.
  • Protect infants with fevers from heat stroke by not bundling them in blankets or too much clothing.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-03-01
Last reviewed: 2006-03-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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