Heat illness and sweat loss can affect total productivity

It is essential that fluid intake contain proper fluids

Heat stress and dehydration are common causes of lost productivity (on the job, in athletics and in the classroom) and accidents during the hot summer months dehydration of the body. It is essential that fluid intake contain the proper concentration fluids and electrolytes (essential minerals—sodium & potassium) lost during the workday, sports activity or recreational activity (at the lake, sports event, etc...).

The cost of supplying an outdoor workforce/team/event group with plentiful hydration, including a high quality sports drink, is small compared to an expensive emergency room visit for heat exhaustion or, even worse, heat stroke, estimated to cost $1,800 per day plus lost productivity.

Research conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) and the National Athletic Trainer Association (NATA) shows that work in hot environments is linked with lower mental alertness and physical performance, and subsequently, more accidents injuries.

The problem not only lies in exposure to heat, but also what is put back into our bodies.

It is not recommended to consume products containing high amounts of sugar or caffeine, such as colas, iced coffee and iced tea.

Sports drinks with simple sugars (high fructose corn syrup) may cause cramping and nausea. Water (although necessary) alone does not have the proper blend of electrolytes, either.

The most optimal solution is one that is low in sugar and contains electrolytes in proportion to what the body has lost in sweat.

There now are some lower carbohydrate (sugar) sports drinks on the market. This carbohydrate formulation avoids the cramping caused by high sugar and enables the body to quickly replace the correct balance of electrolytes lost to sweat.

Drinks with a lower sugar content enhance water and electrolyte absorption," explains Dr. David Sack, an expert in oral rehydration at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Health and Population. Hot Summer/Fall months are the time to implement a proper hydration strategy for our Texas outdoor athletes, workforce and recreational activities.

Heat stress prevention should be a core component of any environment where it is warm/ hot and sweating occurs. The steps mentioned provide an outline of necessary steps to take.

Also, proper nutrition plays a vital role for those engaged in work and activities where the body is under heat stress.

It is also vital, prior to beginning any strenuous outdoor activity, that a key prevention measure is called acclimatization (this can take up to 14 days).

This is a period of short periods of exposure to the outdoors/heat lasting from 30 minutes to two hours per session followed by about a two hour indoor activity/rest.

One to two sessions per day are permitted but not two days in a row.

During these exposure sessions, proper fluids must be available and then post-exposure fluids will be needed as well.

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2009-08-13 digital edition

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