‘This is serious:’ Valley doctors urge precaution as high school athletes practice in heat

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"Don't try to go practice for three or four hours in the sun in the extreme heat when you have been inside playing video games in the air conditioning all summer," Dr. Hassan said.

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — With school back in session in the Rio Grande Valley, more students are back outdoors for sports and band practices. For some students, it is the first time back to outdoor practices in months.

Since August is the hottest month for the RGV as well as the entire state, local doctors are urging high schools to be careful when out in the heat.

“Stay out of the sun try not to do work at those excessive temperatures,” said Dr. Ameer Hassan.

The RGV is no stranger to hot temperatures in the late summer and fall. While high schools continue their outdoor sports practices, doctors say there is a risk.

“It’s been a year of kids being at home and they have not been very active,” said Dr. Cruz Alberto Bernal. “Suddenly we put them back in school and then they start running and the sun that’s the perfect recipe for illnesses like this.”

The most common illnesses are heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Dr. Hassan says the best way to prevent heat illnesses is to drink plenty of water.

“I think knowing that this is serious, you can die from something like this, I think coaches really need to put the pressure on their players to keep them hydrated,” Dr. Hassan said.

Valley school districts do have heat protocols in place for outdoor sports and practices. Water is always provided for students and practices are scheduled during the early morning or evening when temperatures are slightly lower.

The UIL also requires medical examinations for every student that include previous heat illnesses. Doctors say high school players and coaches should be on the look for someone who is experiencing symptoms.

“If you have someone who is sweating profusely and is showing some signs of dizziness or is starting to get some rashes or sun rashes or even sunburn, those are some of the things we need to recognize,” Dr. Bernal said.

Those who do experience heat illness symptoms, they should get out of the sun and cool down right away. And for players who are returning to the field for the first time in months, Dr. Hassan encourages them to ease in.

“Don’t try to go practice for three or four hours in the sun in the extreme heat when you have been inside playing video games in the air conditioning all summer,” Dr. Hassan said. “You do need to build your tolerance.”

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