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U of M doc: protect yourself from heat exhaustion & heat stroke during MN’s USA Cup

(Photo credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr)

This weekend, thousands of soccer players and fans from across the U.S. and worldwide will descend upon the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN, for the Schwan’s USA Cup, one of the largest international youth soccer tournaments in the Western Hemisphere.

The competition and skill level will be high, but so will the temperatures. Minnesota’s Twin Cities will continue to see warm weather throughout the weekend and although participants won’t experience 100-degree days like last week, temperatures will remain in the upper 80’s to low 90’s.

Keeping players, event staff, referees and fans safe from heat exhaustion and heat stroke during the tournament will be a big concern.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is exposed to high temperatures and the body is depleted of water or salt. Left unchecked, heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs.

According to Bill Roberts, M.D., a University of Minnesota Physician family and community health specialist and Medical School professor, heat stroke occurs when the body produces more heat than it can remove. Becoming overheated, the heart can’t pump as well, leading toxins to leak from the gut into the blood stream where the liver doesn’t have the capacity to get rid of them.

With this multi-system failure, the brain doesn’t think as clearly, so many people may not realize they are suffering from heat stroke until after they collapse. In some extreme cases, heat stroke can be fatal.

There are several ways that USA Cup participants can protect themselves while still enjoying the tournament.

  • Stay well-hydrated before, during and after games
  • Take extra water breaks
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat regularly
  • Know your body’s limits
  • Keep cool by using cold cloths, misting or regular fans and ice towels
  • Find shade when possible

Enjoy the tournament and stay safe!

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