Hydrate kids early to help them stay in the game when the heat is on

Hot weather can sideline young athletes by burning up important fluids they need.

To help them stay in the game and keep cool, Dr. Richard So, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, suggests hydrating long before they take the field.

“The hydration starts the morning before you get to practice, so don’t skip meals, drink a bottle of water with your breakfast in addition to whatever you’re going to have for your meal,” So explained. “It’s preventing these types of heat illness and dehydration injuries, which are very interrelated. That’s the best bet for our kids to be safe.”

Hydration can aid physical play and boost mental abilities whereas dehydration can lower performance and cause athletes to become confused or make mental errors.

Dr. So recommends keeping three ‘R’s’ in mind -- replacement, replenishment, and recovery.

He said the best way to replace fluids is to drink water, while pickle juice and sports drinks can help replenish lost electrolytes.

And chocolate milk is a great recovery drink when carbohydrates, fats and protein are needed to help the body recover after a strenuous workout.

He adds that athletes should avoid caffeine as it can be a hinderance.

But, what if an athlete is showing signs of heat illness?

He said a real red flag is vomiting.

Nausea can be a sign of dangerous heat stroke which can be fatal.

“If you get a kid who’s vomiting and he’s got a high temperature, that’s an emergency. You have to cool that kid down with water or an ice bath right away,” So said.

If an athlete is suffering heat symptoms during a game, Dr. So said it’s important to get them off the field, cool them down and have them drink plenty of fluids.