Detroit Free Press Health: HYDRATION GUIDE: Drink up
As school sports practices get under way, here’s what to drink,
when to drink it and how to tell if you’re in danger
August 8, 2006
BY CECILIA OLECK
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The obsession that is prep sports cranks up this week with some teams
officially starting practice for the fall season.
But lest the word "fall" confuse any, let's be clear. It's still summer,
which means it's hot.
And that means athletes need to take extra precautions to avoid
Between 1995 and 2005, 20 high school football players died from heat
stroke in the United States, according to the National Federation of
High School Associations.
The best way to avoid a meltdown is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty
of fluids before, during and after exercise.
But how do you tell if you're drinking enough? What should you drink?
What are the signs of a heat-related illness?
We asked local experts. Here's what they had to say.
Don't wait for thirst
Thirst isn't a good gauge of whether you're dehydrated.
It's better to drink fluids before, during and after activity, said
John Brady, a certified athletic trainer with the Center for Athletic
Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Brady recommends that athletes drink between 16 and 20 ounces a few
hours before they head to practices or games and another 8-12 ounces
right before the event.
During practice or competition, it's best to drink something every
15-20 minutes, Brady said.
After the workout, drink up to the point that your urine is clear,
or, if you lost weight during the workout, drink about 20 ounces
for each pound lost.
How to tell if you're hydrated
Check the color of your urine, says Jeanne Stevenson, a sports
nutritionist and registered dietitian who works with athletic groups
like the Detroit Figure Skating Club.
Urine should be clear or the color of lemonade, not apple juice, Stevenson said.
Signs of dehydration include dizziness, loss of coordination, headaches
and poor performance.
"Those would be the early cues that maybe the athlete should be taking
a break in the shade, getting a drink," she said.
What's better -- water or sports drinks?
Sure, it's not the most glamorous, but plain water is all anyone
really needs to keep hydrated, says John Brady, a certified athletic
trainer, especially if you're eating a well-balanced diet.
Sports drinks like Gatorade or PowerAde can be appealing if you
don't like the taste (or lack thereof) of water, as long as the
drink doesn't contain too many carbohydrates. A sports drink
should have about 6% carbohydrates.
"Any more than that can irritate the stomach and doesn't allow
gastric emptying," Brady says. "The body has to put more energy
into digesting carbohydrates rather than just getting it into
If using a combination of water and sports drinks, Brady
recommends drinking water during practice or games and
sports drinks before and after.
Heat cramps: Symptoms include painful muscle spasms,
usually in the abdomen or the legs, caused by an imbalance of minerals.
You might feel lightheaded and weak.
What to do: Find a cool place to rest and drink a
sports drink that has electrolytes.
Heat syncope: A fancy word for passing out.
You either pass out or feel like you're going to,
but regain consciousness without any other symptoms.
What to do: Take a break, get something to
drink, sit in the shade and use a cool compress.
Heat exhaustion: A more serious form of heat
illness. You might have the following symptoms: frontal headache,
changes in mental function, dizziness and loss of balance, nausea or
vomiting, unsteadiness and tremors, muscle cramps, hyperventilation
or losing consciousness.
What to do: Others should help you lie down in a
cool area with feet slightly elevated, apply wet towels at room
temperature to your body and add a teaspoon of salt per quart
to a cool fluid and have you drink.
Heat stroke: The most severe form of heat-related
illness, this can cause permanent damage or death if left untreated.
The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also look for
hyperthermia, where the core body temperature can be higher than
105.8 degrees. This can lead to convulsions, heart attack, coma,
stroke, liver and kidney damage or blood clots in the lungs.
What to do: Others should call for medical help,
then remove your clothes and wrap you in wet sheets.
Your legs should be elevated 8-12 inches.
What to avoid:
- Carbonated drinks like pop and juices that contain a lot of
sugar or are too concentrated slow down the hydration process,
says sports nutritionist Jeanne Stevenson.
- Drinks with stimulants like caffeine and a lot of sugar --
even if they are marketed as sports performance drinks --
aren't a good idea because they speed up heat buildup in
your body. For some people, they can cause upset stomachs.
Anyone taking nutrition supplements, like Creatine or whey
protein, needs to be extra careful about hydrating, says Brady.
They can contain extra salt.
Contact CECILIA OLECK at 313-223-4286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press