National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Exertional Heat Illnesses

J Athl Train. 2015 Sep;50(9):986-1000. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-50.9.07.


Objective: To present best-practice recommendations for the prevention, recognition, and treatment of exertional heat illnesses (EHIs) and to describe the relevant physiology of thermoregulation.

Background: Certified athletic trainers recognize and treat athletes with EHIs, often in high-risk environments. Although the proper recognition and successful treatment strategies are well documented, EHIs continue to plague athletes, and exertional heat stroke remains one of the leading causes of sudden death during sport. The recommendations presented in this document provide athletic trainers and allied health providers with an integrated scientific and clinically applicable approach to the prevention, recognition, treatment of, and return-to-activity guidelines for EHIs. These recommendations are given so that proper recognition and treatment can be accomplished in order to maximize the safety and performance of athletes.

Recommendations: Athletic trainers and other allied health care professionals should use these recommendations to establish onsite emergency action plans for their venues and athletes. The primary goal of athlete safety is addressed through the appropriate prevention strategies, proper recognition tactics, and effective treatment plans for EHIs. Athletic trainers and other allied health care professionals must be properly educated and prepared to respond in an expedient manner to alleviate symptoms and minimize the morbidity and mortality associated with these illnesses.

Keywords: dehydration; heat cramps; heat exhaustion; heat injury; heat stroke; heat syncope.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cryotherapy / methods
  • Death, Sudden
  • Dehydration / prevention & control
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / complications
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Fever / diagnosis
  • Fever / therapy
  • Heat Stress Disorders / diagnosis
  • Heat Stress Disorders / physiopathology
  • Heat Stress Disorders / therapy*
  • Heat Stroke / therapy
  • Hospitalization
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Return to Sport
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports / physiology*