Heat is a must-know for golfers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 3, 2001

Many golfers use a sunny summer afternoon round of golf to unwind.

However, many unprepared and uneducated golfers can end up in a hospital bed, clinging on to life by a thin thread, according one health expert.

&uot;Heat exhaustion and heat strokes are serious conditions,&uot; said American Medical Response Education and Training Director Joel Plummer. &uot;Especially heat stroke situations.&uot;

Plummer said golfers – as well as any other outdoorsman – don’t protect themselves from the South’s brutal heat and humidity and can put themselves in a very dangerous position.&uot;

Heat exhaustion, he said, comes from &uot;being exposed to the elements for extended periods without rest and water.

&uot;Most people go out and just drink Gatorade and not water. Gatorade only replaces some of the body’s electrolytes, but it’s best to mix it with water,&uot; he said.

Those suffering from heat exhaustion, he said, will sweat profusely, but that’s not the case with someone nearing a heat stroke.

&uot;It’s a life or death situation then,&uot; he said. &uot;They stop sweating and lose consciousness. They’re body temperature shoots up. Once you cross that line, it’s an emergency.&uot;

According to the American Academy of Sports Medicine (AASM), there are two categories of heat stroke – a classic heat stroke and exertional heat stroke.

A classic heat stroke, the organization’s Web site said, mostly affects the elderly, chronically ill, those who do not exercise, and people taking certain medications (such as psychiatric drugs, decongestants, some blood pressure pills, diuretics, and antihistamines).

An exertional heat stroke, on the other hand, occurs mostly in younger individuals who are strenuously exercising or working in hot conditions. This type of heat stroke results from increased heat production and may cause organ damage.

&uot;Your body begins to shut down after you go into heat stroke,&uot;&160;Plummer said. &uot;Your kidneys shut down so the body tries to keep the vital organs going.&uot;