Staying hydrated is important all year round, but it’s absolutely crucial as the summer heat moves in. High temperatures mean we lose water more quickly, and all of those fun summer activities can be a distraction from those important water breaks. Here are a few tips for staying hydrated this summer–and some recommendations for what to do if you get dehydrated or overheated.
Why Is Water So Important?
As most of us know, our bodies are made up mostly of water. It allows our organs to function properly and helps us get rid of waste through urine, sweat and bowel movements. Water also keeps us cool in hot weather through the cooling properties of perspiration. Drinking water allows our body’s own air conditioning unit to keep working as it should!
How Much Water Should I Be Drinking?
The National Academies of Sciences recommends a total daily fluid intake of just under four liters for men and just under three liters for women. But this includes liquids from all sources, including foods and other beverages. As far as straight-up water consumption goes, the old gauge of eight glasses of water a day really does have a lot of merit as a baseline. However, if it’s super hot or you’re playing sports or doing another intense activity outdoor activity like mowing, you may need more. The NAS suggests letting your thirst be your guide and following the basic principle of drinking when you’re thirsty. But under certain conditions, we might ignore our thirst and let that all-important water break get away from us so it’s good to have some strategies for staying hydrated.
What Are Some Tips For Staying Hydrated?
- One of our favorite tips is keeping a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day. This applies to school-aged kids, moms and dads and seniors. Make it your favorite accessory!
- Drink water before, during and after a workout.
- Set up a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. The Mayo Clinic suggests drinking water with and between each meal to help you meet your goal.
- A non-caffeinated herbal tea before bed is a relaxing way to hydrate for the day ahead.
- Eat plenty of water-rich fruits and vegetables. There’s a reason cukes and watermelon are summer favorites!
- Check the color of your urine. Pale urine usually means you’re drinking enough water while a darker color means you should be drinking more.
And remember water is almost always the best choice. The Mayo Clinic says sports drinks like Gatorade should only be an option if you’re exercising intensely for more than an hour. Drinks with caffeine have a diuretic effect: they cause you to pee more frequently and actually dehydrate rather than hydrate your body.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dehydration?
Some of the symptoms of mild or moderate dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Reduced urination
What Are Heat Stroke And Heat Exhaustion?
When high temperatures or overexertion cause your body to go beyond dehydration, it can mean big problems. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of the most severe heat-related medical conditions.
Heat exhaustion is the less dangerous of the two and is often characterized by heavy sweating brought on by strenuous activity in hot weather. Symptoms include skin that may be cool and moist to the touch, headache, rapid breathing and rapid heart rate
Heatstroke is the most serious form of heat injury. It occurs when your body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees or higher and your sweating mechanism breaks down. According to the Mayo Clinic, heat stroke can damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles if not treated quickly. The Mayo Clinic has identified two types of heat stroke: traditional heatstroke brought on by exposure to high temperatures (which often occurs in older adults or people with chronic conditions) and exertional heatstroke brought on by strenuous activity in high temperatures, which is more likely to occur in healthy people. Unlike heat exhaustion, heat stroke often causes the skin to feel hot and dry as sweating breaks down.
Other symptoms of heat stroke include:
- High body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushed skin
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
What Should I Do If Have Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion Or Heat Stroke?
If you or someone you love experiences symptoms of heat stroke, get to a cool place and get emergency medical help right away. This can mean calling an ambulance or heading straight to a hospital emergency room. In the case of dehydration or heat exhaustion, get to a cool place and drink water or a sports drink with electrolytes. If your symptoms persist, head to a trusted urgent care, like LMG’s Cornwall Urgent Care, to get checked out.
When Should I Go To Urgent Care For Heat-Related Symptoms?
If you have symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, getting prompt medical attention is key. In seniors and young children, even moderate dehydration can cause problems. So it’s best to play it safe and head to a trusted urgent care center. LMG Cornwall Urgent Care offers evening and weekend hours, so we’re there for you even when your family doctor isn’t available. Our staff is well trained in recognizing and treating heat-related injuries in patients young, old and everywhere in between.
Staying Healthy And Hydrated For A Successful Summer
Making sure you drink enough water is one of the best ways you can take care of yourself throughout the active and hot summer months. But sometimes good hydration practices can get away from even the most health-conscious individuals. If you find yourself or a family member experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, don’t ignore the warning signs. LMG Cornwall Urgent Care is a close, convenient and trusted resource for all kinds of summer injuries–from bee stings to dehydration, helping you keep summer safe, healthy and fun!