Heat Syncope is also known as orthostatic dizziness. This refers to a fainting episode that someone can experience in high environmental temperatures, usually during the initial days of heat exposure.
Signs and Symptoms
Dizziness (vertigo), weakness, lightheadedness, tunnel vision, pale or sweaty skin, nausea, decreased and weak pulse rate, and normal exercising rectal temperature
Standing for long periods of time, usually wearing a uniform, immediately after cessation of activity, or after rapidly standing from prolonged resting or sitting posture
- Move person to shaded/cool area, monitor vital signs, elevate legs to promote venous return, and rehydrate
- Individuals who experience heat syncope will recover relatively quickly, within 10-15 minutes
An athlete may return to play once his/her symptoms have resolved and any other medical conditions have been ruled out. Athletes should attempt to rehydrate as necessary.
Heat syncope often occurs in individuals that are unacclimatized to the heat (the body is not used to increased environmental temperatures) therefore, individuals should adapt to exercise in the heat gradually acclimatize over 10-14 days by progressively increasing duration and intensity of work. Heat syncope may also be due to dehydration, which limits total blood volume, and predisposes individuals to syncope. All exercising individuals should be appropriately hydrated prior to exercise.
- Armstrong LE. Exertional Heat Illnesses. Human Kinetics; 2003.
- Armstrong LE, Casa DJ, Millard-Stafford M, Moran DS, Pyne SW, Roberts WO. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: exertional heat illness during training and competition. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:556–572.
- Binkley HM, Beckett J, Casa DJ, Kleiner DM, Plummer PE. National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: exertional heat illnesses. J Athl Train. 2002;37:329–343.