Health: How to keep heatstroke at bay

Take some precautions when the heat is on

For those who live or compete in hot countries, heatstroke is a constant danger. But you can even be struck down in more temperate climates like the UK during the hot summer months, so – whatever your standard – you need to be wary of its threat.

At its worst, heatstroke can be fatal, and even a mild form of it can leave you hospitalised. Symptoms include excessive sweating, nausea, light-headedness, muscle cramps and headaches, and, in more severe cases, confusion, disorientation and acute shortness of breath.

Avoiding it isn’t just about applying sunscreen. These simple steps will help keep you safe this summer.

Four ways to prevent heatstroke:

1 Allowing sweat to escape is key. Your clothing is crucial – wear cotton and sports materials, and avoid synthetic materials that trap heat and perspiration. Ensure helmets are well ventilated.

2 Drink plenty of water and isotonic sports drinks, which often contain sodium and electrolytes, to replace salt levels lost through sweat. Make sure you drink fluids both before and after riding.

3 Watch your diet. Avoid large, heavy meals in the run-up to your ride or race, and eat a series of carbohydrate-rich, easily digested smaller meals. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as both cause dehydration.

4 Acclimatise and make sure you pace yourself. If you’re racing in a hot country, arrive as early as possible. Whether you're competing or on a riding holiday with friends, stay within your body’s limits – if you go off too hard you’ll hit ‘the wall’ quicker and harder.

For more information on the symptoms and avoidance of heatstroke, visit www.nhs.co.uk.

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