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Exertional heatstroke is a danger to high school football players

Young football players across the country are already practicing for the upcoming season. Many of them are doing this in the extreme heat and humidity of Georgia and other southern states.

While the dangers of concussions have become — rightfully — a serious concern for football players of all ages in recent years, there's another potentially fatal condition that can impact them as well — exertional heatstroke (EHS).

This condition is even more serious than traditional heatstroke. It is, according to The Journal of Applied Physiology, the third most common reason for sudden death among athletes in high school. It can cause organ and brain damage. Fatal neurological damage can occur. People who exert themselves while wearing heavy equipment, such as military personnel and athletes, are especially at risk.

Both the National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have banned twice-a-day practices during the summer in an effort to prevent EHS. However, not all high schools have followed suit.

However, if coaches, trainers, parents and others who watch high school football players practice can spot the signs of EHS, they can get players off the field and treated before they suffer the potentially fatal effects.

The symptoms include dizziness, fainting, disorientation and vomiting. The sooner treatment, such as an ice bath, is administered, the better the chances are of an athlete surviving. Emergency responders should also be called.

If parents can get school districts to implement regulations like eliminating two-a-day practices, they can lower the risk of serious injuries and fatalities for student athletes. In the meantime, if your child suffers injuries, or worse, due to EHS, you have every right to find out what steps his coaches, trainers and others involved in the practice took or didn't take to help ensure his safety. A Georgia personal injury attorney can offer guidance.

Source: The New York Times, "The Risk of Exertional Heatstroke to Young Athletes Doctors," Julian Bailes, M.D., accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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