Did you know that 70% of high school football players begin their practice dehydrated? Or that a football player can lose up to a gallon of sweat during an average practice or game? Even slight dehydration can hinder performance in an athlete; losing 1.5%-2% of your body weight in fluid can cause fatigue and affect mental and physical skills. Being dehydrated is dangerous because it can predispose an athlete to a number of heat illnesses including exercise-associated muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

Signs of Heat Stroke:

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical attention and rapid cool water immersion. Many of the symptoms for heat illness are very similar to a concussion; therefore, it is important to report any injury or illness when it first happens. If you suspect you have heat illness and there are no medical personnel around, call 911, seek shade, take off excess equipment and clothing, and rehydrate.

Always remember to stay well-hydrated; it is important to prepare your activity before, during, and after athletic participation. Pay attention to your urine color; light or lemonade-colored urine means you are well-hydrated. A sports beverage such as Gatorade is optimal for rehydration during activity because it contains carbohydrates which provide an energy source for the body during long, strenuous exercises and electrolytes like sodium which plays an essential role in maintaining fluid balance and blood volume in your body.