Injuries related to overexertion account for over 3 million hospital visits a year. Most of these injuries are preventable. Use your head; avoid pushing your body past its limits.

Physical Overexertion
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), physical overexertion is the most common cause of workers compensation claims. These types of injuries usually occur through repetitive motion such as typing, lifting heavy objects, or working in an awkward position. The pain is often acute, though it will decrease after medical care and preventative measures are taken. However, if the overexertion is constant, acute pain can become chronic, leading to problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.

Physical overexertion is not strictly a workplace risk. Common causes of overexertion injuries in both children and adults include:

  • Exercise
  • Sports
  • Motion control video games such as Wii and PS3 Move
  • Tripping or falling

You can avoid physical overexertion by:

  • Practicing good posture
  • Utilizing ergonomic workspaces
  • Lifting lighter loads
  • Decreasing the distance you must stretch to lift a heavy object
  • Taking frequent breaks to keep potential repetitive motion minimal
  • Strength training and stretching
  • Knowing your body's limits

Fatigue
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), there are many causes of fatigue. The biggest culprits are pushing the body and the mind too hard for too long and not getting enough sleep. "Burning the candle at both ends" is an unsustainable and unhealthy way to live. Sleep is essential to your health; it allows the mind and body to heal and recharge after dealing with the previous day's stress. Proper sleep is also vital to a child's health and development. Consequences of lack of sleep include:

  • Irritability
  • Irrationality
  • Making mistakes
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irregular breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Increased napping
  • Decreased cognitive function

You can avoid fatigue or lack of sleep:

  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Reducing sugar intake
  • Establishing a routine bedtime
  • Regular exercise
  • Reducing alcohol and nicotine intake

Beware of sleep medications. They are addictive, and do not provide a fully restful night sleep. Consult your doctor if you feel you need medication to help you sleep.

Hypoglycemia and Dehydration
Ever have such a busy day that you forget to eat or to drink enough water? These easily avoidable incidences contribute to overexertion and, if not properly managed, can have serious health implications.

Hypoglycemia
By not eating at least three times a day, you can fall into a state of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar symptoms can differ in children and adults and range from mild to severe.

You may experience any of these symptoms when your blood sugar gets too low:

  • Confusion
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Hunger pangs
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Sluggishness/tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Labored breathing
  • Fainting

More serious complications, especially if there are underlying diseases such as diabetes, include:

  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Death

You can avoid hypoglycemia. Remember to:

  • Eat
  • Always carry a snack
  • Explicitly follow doctor orders if you or your child is diabetic

Dehydration
When you're thirsty your body is trying to tell you something important. Thirst is often the first sign of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the amount of water loss from your body exceeds the amount of fluid intake. Signs of dehydration can range from subtle to severe and may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Thirst
  • Cracked lips
  • Concentrated or dark-colored urine
  • Minimal or no sweat or tears
  • Joint pain
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Complications include:

  • Kidney damage
  • Coma
  • Death

You can avoid dehydration. Make sure to:

  • Drink enough water
  • Replenish fluid and electrolyte loss throughout the day
  • Avoid caffeinated and sugary beverages, especially when working out or exercising
  • Take frequent breaks in a cool place
  • Use a damp cloth to reduce body temperature and sweating

While overexertion can be a cause of dehydration in children, certain diseases and infections can also lead to severe water loss. Dehydration in children is a severe medical problem. Consult your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.