Even though they're entirely preventable and even though they've been recognized as a leading cause of death disability among high school and college athletes, heat illnesses send nearly 6,000 people in the U.S. to the emergency rooms each year, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The illnesses include heat exhaustion and dehydration, and males between the ages of 15 and 19 had the highest incidence.
Males accounted for 72.5 percent of these ER visits, the study showed. The age group accounting for the highest number of visits was 15- to 19-year-olds, with 35.6 percent. Those 10- to 14-years-old accounted for 18.2 percent of visits, while 20-to 24-year-olds for 10 percent.
Without prompt treatment, heat illnesses can lead to organ failure, brain damage and death, the CDC said. Most of the ER visits in the study did not lead to further hospitalizations -- nearly 92 percent of people were treated and released.
The most common activities leading to the ER visits were:
- Football (24.7 percent)
- Walking, jogging and calisthenics (20.4 percent)
- Golf (for those over the age of 45)
If you must exercise in the heat, make sure to take frequent breaks and drink fluids. Athletes should be allowed to get used to the heat by increasing duration and intensity gradually.