As the weather warms up, recreational activities move outdoors. Marathons, for example, pose challenges for emergency response professionals tasked with supervising runner health.
Several injuries are common during the strain of a long distance race. Nearby medical professionals are organized into rapid response teams (RRT) trained to recognize, respond, and treat severe injuries.
Common Marathon Health Risks
Dehydration: Fluids grow scarce in the 26.2 miles to the finish line. Although runners may indulge in water stations, they aren’t likely to properly compensate for their level of activity. Complications of dehydration can include heat injury such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seizures, and low blood volume shock. Signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.
Cardiac Arrest: Each year more reports of marathon fatalities due to heart attacks occur. Cardiac arrests during races are rare, with only 59 cardiac events among nearly 11 million runners in marathons and half-marathons between 2000 and 2010. Unfortunately, 42 of those 59 events were fatal, so while uncommon in running, cardiac events are more deadly. RRTs limit defibrillation and CPR response times and increase patient odds of survival. Signs of cardiac arrest include dizzy or light-headedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and fainting.
Stress Fractures: Runners aren’t always aware of stress fractures in their feet. At first, the pain tends to be negligible. However, it worsens over time depending on the difficulty of their training regimen. They should stop running if they begin to experience sharper pain in the area or if swelling and tenderness fades during rest. A hospital visit can confirm the existence of a stress fracture. A physician will assess whether a walking boot or crutches are necessary to reduce pressure on the injury.
Achilles Tendinitis: Tendons in the feet and legs can grow fatigued in high mileage. Achilles tendinitis, if pushed, can devolve into a serious injury with a lengthy recovery time. If a runner experiences pain between the heel and calf even while at rest and cannot stand up on his or her toes without pain, he or she may have Achilles tendinitis. A runner with Achilles tendinitis should not continue to run.
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