Athletic alert: Watch for signs of heat illness

As temperatures rise and more people spend time outdoors, physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center remind athletes of all skill levels to stay hydrated and watch for signs of possible heat illness.

“You may feel light headed or dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, headaches, muscle twitching or weakness, all possible signs that you’re overheating,” says Dr. Robert Dimeff, medical director of the sports medicine program at UT Southwestern. “More serious symptoms may involve severe muscle cramps, loss of balance, confusion, disorientation, trouble breathing, and fainting episodes.”

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine recommends drinking fluids such as water or sports drinks before you exercise, and continuing with small amounts of these liquids during and after exercise or exertion. Water is adequate for activities lasting an hour or less, otherwise drinks containing carbohydrates, sodium and potassium are better at replacing fluids lost fluids in extended workouts.

If you notice signs of overheating, stop your activities, get into shade and drink some fluids. For cramps, massage the area. For heat exhaustion – a serious form of temperature-related distress – use towels or hoses to cool off the affected person. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention quickly.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine.


July is National Park and Recreation Month.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

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