Why Cold Water Immersion?

Living in Florida my whole life and playing soccer in its extreme heat made the words heat exhaustion and heat stroke more common through my years. I have experienced heat exhaustion once when I was around 13 years old from a soccer game. I felt nauseous, sick, extremely tired, and was cramping in multiple places. However, I felt fine the next day.

Years later, I experienced something much worse from college soccer. I collapsed during preseason and was rushed to the hospital. I was diagnosed with heat stroke and Rhabdomyolysis.

When I learned how important and effective cold water immersion is, I was angry this cooling modality was not used to treat me at the hospital. Instead I woke up confused and naked in a hospital bed with bags of ice placed around me and fans blowing. Luckily I ended up being fine for the most part after a week of rest and could attend classes. One thing I did notice is how my speech was affected for over a year afterwards. I noticed when I would try to pronounce something like before it would sometimes come out sounding different. My mouth even felt like it wasn’t responding the same and it’s motor abilities were changed. I am sure some type of damage occurred that I just never followed up with at the doctors.

If cold water immersion is not available, there are alternatives that can still help them cool down faster than just removing them from the heat/ using ice packs.

Do You Know the differences between heat stroke and heat exhaustion??

Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.

Heat stroke is a condition where the body’s cooling mechanisms are overcome by heat resulting in a high core heat usually above 104 F or 40 C in adults, and 105 F or 40.5 C in children; and accompanied by mental status changes.

One of the most noticeable differences is the lack of sweating that occurs during heat stroke and possible loss of consciousness. When I got heat stroke I definitely had a loss of consciousness. I still do not remember anything from what happened that day. I remember feeling horrible and exhausted during practice and then waking up in the hospital. One of my teammates noticed me seeming very out of it and called the trainer over.. I also threw up at the hospital, which shows how nausea was a sign that day. Heat stroke is a medical emergency! Get help by calling 911 immediately and cooling them down in any way possible while you wait for them to arrive.

Why does cold water immersion work so well?

Water has a much higher compacity for thermal conductivity which allows greater heat transfer than air. Studies show that a person cools 4 times faster in water than in air at the same temperature. Most exertion heat stroke deaths occur in the 12 hour – 1 week period after the event. However, the steps taken right away to cool the core temperature as fast as possible and prevent tissue damage is what determines this. This is when the damage happens and this is why it is so important to get the core temperature down fast.

I hope this gave you a little knowledge on this subject! Stay hydrated, wear light colored clothing, rest when you need it. You know your body better than anyone. I knew something was very wrong and should have stopped myself no matter what anyone else thought and I did not. Lesson learned!

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