Hydration pushed as temperatures at Pacific bases rise
Stars and Stripes June 13, 2003
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Summer rays are spiking temperatures at some Pacific bases even though summer’s official start still is more than two weeks away. The rising thermometer, officials warn, also increases chances of you becoming a heat stress victim.
Health officials from Okinawa’s U.S. Naval Hospital are warning servicemembers to be aware of what the heat can do to the body while maintaining physical training regimens in summer. Rising mercury, combined with increased humidity and other factors, makes pushing the limits during training sessions risky business.
“We see a number of admissions to the emergency room during the summer months for heat cases,” said Dave Elger, head of health promotions for the U.S. Naval Hospital. “We already saw a few cases come in during the first bump in temperatures a couple weeks ago here.”
Heat stress injuries come in three categories: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Heat-related injuries don’t always follow a progressive model when it comes to symptoms, Elger warned, and some people may not notice any problems before the onset of heatstroke. Elger also said that people who have already suffered from some form of heat stress are more prone to suffer further heat-related injuries. Additionally, weight-loss supplements and fat burners put people at increased risk of heat stress and shouldn’t be taken prior to workouts.
Doctors are also warning of rhabdomyolysis, a disease that causes muscle tissue to break down and release proteins into the blood.
According to Navy Cmdr. Dave Lasseter, director for medical services at the U.S. Naval Hospital, symptoms can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Minor cases include muscle pain and swelling; more serious cases include blood in the urine, high blood potassium and kidney failure.
Prevention of rhabdomyolysis and all forms of heat-related injuries starts with hydration, Elger said.
“People should be drinking water throughout the day,” he said. “But before a major event, you would want to drink an extra 12 to 14 ounces and another six [or] eight ounces every 15 or 20 minutes during exercise.”
Elger also warned against excessive alcohol consumption, which dehydrates the body. People new to warmer climates should take it easy for the first 10 days to 14 days, he said; maintaining light physical training sessions allows the body to acclimate to the harsher and hotter conditions.
“People should strive to wear light clothing and avoid the sun,” Elger added. “Workouts should be early in the morning or later in the evenings to avoid direct sun. You also have to understand that you just can’t go as hard during the hotter months. The weather is harder on your body … you have to take that into account.”