Wicking Sports Apparel Failure – Overheated – Repeated Yawning

by Jean on April 30, 2015

Did my efforts to stay cool and dry in a high performance wicking tank make me sick, fatigued, bloated, dizzy – and spike my neurological testing?  I think so.

I bought a tight fitting tank top to hike in, it sounded like a warm weather hiker’s dream tank.  It has special high performance fabric that wicks to keep you dry, and best of all feels cool to the touch for hours when you are sweaty.

I wore it twice on 90+ degree days for walks lasting 60 to 90 minutes.  The first time I was tired afterwards and a little yawning at lunch, no big deal.  The second time was a few days later and within hours of the workout I started yawning.  Like more than a hundred yawns in several hours.  Funny at first because I was a little sleepy but not THAT sleepy, and as I realized I could not control them they became not funny at all.

Dr. Buckeye did some quick research and came up with some studies that repeated yawning is a brain cooling mechanism.  So I think that keeping my torso dry and cold threw off my thermorgulatory mechanism and my brain was overheating.  The sweat was getting wicked off and it wasn’t cooling my skin like it should.  So my high tech efforts disrupted my natural cooling process.

Doc had me lay down and put a cold towel on my head.  The yawns immediately stopped.  I had a doozy of a headache afterwards, and felt foggy headed.   That was 2 weeks ago and my headache persists, almost like a hangover but without the fun.

I went in about a week later for Autonomic Nervous System testing and my previously normal test was now abnormal on both the sympathetic and parasympathetic sides.   I apparently gave myself a heat concussion of sorts.

So I’m avoiding the wicking fabric right now for my main hiking clothes and I am hoping for medical clearance from Doc in the next couple of weeks.  I’m going to keep a loose fitting long sleeve shirt, cold headband, and cold towel to dunk on the trail but I’m not ever going to wear high performance fabric for the main hiking pieces.

What was scary near home might have been a life-threatening disaster on the trail.   Dizzy, overheated, and abnormal fatigue in the middle of a 24 mile hike day is not ever a good thing.  And now that I understand repetitive and uncontrollable yawning can also be a sign of heat distress, it is one more thing to add to the list that we must watch for in other hikers.

I keep circling back to the same distressing thought that so many things that I do to make life easier/more comfortable/more efficient just mess me up.

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