Back to school means back to sports for many student athletes, but doctors are reminding parents and coaches of the dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

We’re told heat exhaustion and heat stroke are easy to treat but if you wait too long to get help, it could be fatal.

Dr. Rachel Coel with Queens Medical Center told KHON2 heat exhaustion is a regular occurrence in Hawaii, but athletes are at an even greater risk.

“In heat exhaustion, usually their temperature is less than 104 degrees but they are starting to show some symptoms,” Coel said. “They might feel like they’re going to collapse and they obviously will be sweating pretty heavily. Now when you start crossing into the danger zone, you actually stop sweating.”

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, sweating, feeling dizzy and vomiting.

Some athletes might notice heat cramps in their torso or other areas.

However, we’re told there are two things that set heat stroke apart from heat exhaustion.

“Those two key things are that their internal temperature is 104 or higher and the second piece to that is that they do have some of those central nervous system changes. Coel said. “A lot of these athletes can get up to 107, 108 degrees and this is where it gets life threatening.”

We asked what happens to the body when someone has a heat stroke?

“What we describe it as is seriously, they’re starting to internally damage their organs, they’re starting to cook their organs, they’re too hot,” Coel said. “The kidneys may start to fail, the liver may start to fail and ultimately then the heart fails.

So how can a heat illness be prevented?

We’re told it’s important to get acclimated to the heat.

“Usually they’ll start with light training and work their intensity up but also they’ll change from just being in shorts and a t-shirt and then they’ll work towards helmet and then they’ll work toward full pads,” Coel said.

Coel said athletes should hydrate every 15 minutes or so during practice.

Whether your student is active or not, they should drink water regularly, stay in cool areas, and wear a hat, sunscreen or both.

Coel told KHON2 she knows of a few cases where dehydrated students in a hot classroom experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion.