Course Instructor (P13)

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Heat Stress

Much of the golfing season is in the summer months. The age of golfers varies greatly, but there are large numbers of golfers over the age of 45. Appropriate attention must be given to hydration, clothing, sun protection and use of alcohol.

  • Preparation – high temperatures and humidity pose a difficult problem for the recreational golfer. Of course, exercise generates heat which the body must dissipate. The body will cool itself mainlythrough the sweating mechanism in which heat is carried away from the body as perspiration evaporates. High humidity will prevent the sweat from evaporating and disrupt the benefits of the thermo-regulatory system. Overstress from excessive alcohol or other factors can also disrupt the thermo-regulatory system by causing the sweating reflex to cease. The best method of prevention is to hydrate the body prior to and during the activity. A fluid loss of as little as 3% of total body weight can adversely affect endurance and coordination. This limited loss can initiate heat illness. Remember, several small doses of water are preferable to one large amount. A strategy for replacing fluid is to drink cold water and 6 to 8% solution of carbohydrate consisting of 34 ounces 2 hours before activity, 13 to 17 ounces 15 minutes before activity and 13 to 17 ounces every 30 minutes during activity.

Heat Stress

Light and loose fitting clothing will allow air to move over the body. Clothing that binds can trap heat. Protection of the head from direct sunlight or periodic rest beneath trees or other shady locations can drastically reduce the temperature of the body.

  • Heat Cramps – this painful involuntary muscle contraction is due to a decrease in electrolyte intake or even excessive water during exercise (which dilutes electrolytes). These can be managed by drinking electrolyte solutions, stretching and applying a cooling application and above all ruling out further heat illness problems.
  • Heat Exhaustion – the symptoms of heat exhaustion are often subtle. The individual may experience progressive weakness or a lack of coordination; there is clamminess and a pale or gray appearance in the face. There can be weakening of the pulse and the pupils may dilate. Nausea often accompanies these other symptoms and the golfer can be subject to fainting. Muscle cramps are commonlypresent.
  • Heat Stroke – heat stroke is caused by high temperature, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. A significant increase in body temperature will occur very rapidly. The most common signs will include dizziness, weakness and confusion, the skin can be dry and will appear flush, but the pulse will remain strong and rapid. The skin temperature will feel hot to the touch with axillary temperatures that can range between 101° to 107°. Often the individual will experience sudden unconsciousness. Heat stroke is an immediate emergency. Cool wet towels must be applied to the individual and he or she must be quickly transported for full medical attention. Clothing should be moved aside and they should be moved to the coolest available place. If the individual remains conscious, provide cool or cold drinks to replace the fluid loss.
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