Cold water immersion: the gold standard for exertional heatstroke treatment

Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2007 Jul;35(3):141-9. doi: 10.1097/jes.0b013e3180a02bec.


The key to maximize the chances of surviving exertional heatstroke is rapidly decreasing the elevated core body temperature. Many methods exist to cool the body, but current evidence strongly supports the use of cold water. Preferably, the athlete should be immersed in cold water. If lack of equipment or staff prevents immersion, a continual dousing with cold water provides an effective cooling modality. We refute the many criticisms of this treatment and provide scientific evidence supporting cold water immersion for exertional heatstroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Heat Stroke / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods*
  • Immersion*
  • Sports / physiology