Especially during the “dog days” of summer, it is extremely
important to pay attention to your body’s need for hydration. Drinking
sufficient quantities of water plays such a key role in your overall health
and wellness, that it is hard to overstate the value of proper hydration.
Although hydration is so important, many people have questions about how
to stay hydrated. This blog post will answer some of those questions and
provide you with helpful information about hydration.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is when your body is taking in fewer fluids than it is losing.
Dehydration is often related to heat. Other names for dehydration include
“sun stroke,” “heat stroke,” and “heat exhaustion.”
Dehydration can, however, occur in cold months and temperatures.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Cracked / dry lips
- Nausea / vomiting
- Leg or stomach cramps
- Feeling overheated
- Dry mouth
- Darker urine
Dehydration is preventable, but common and usually treatable; however,
it can be dangerous. It’s important to know how to prevent dehydration
in order to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially if you are
a parent of young children, an athlete or avid exerciser, or if you are sick.
When Is Dehydration an Emergency?
It’s also important to know when dehydration constitutes a medical
emergency. If you or a loved one suffers severe heat stroke—for
example, he / she passes out, displays signs of delirium, or has a body
temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or above—you must treat this
as an emergency. Call 911 right away!
You can use the following steps to help a person suffering from serious
heat stroke to get well while waiting for the emergency caregivers to arrive:
- Move the person into a shaded area, out of direct sunlight
- Cool their body using wet towels, fans, cold water below the neck, and ice packs
- Avoid giving the person water unless he / she is conscious
- Ensure that he / she receives medical care
Drink Lots of Water!
The first tip for avoiding dehydration is pretty obvious: Drink plenty
of water! You can tell your body is dehydrated when you feel thirsty.
Thirst is an excellent indicator of your body’s need to rehydrate.
If you feel thirsty, you’ve already sustained a water loss of 1%
of your body weight. If you are exercising or working hard, drink water
before you get thirsty. Keep track of your water intake. A simple measurement
tip: Drink half your body weight in ounces instead of pounds! In other
words, if you weigh 150 pounds, shoot for 75 ounces per day.
How to Prevent Dehydration While Sick
If you are feeling unwell, it’s important to be proactive in avoiding
dehydration by drinking extra fluids. Diarrhea, vomiting, and excess sweating
can cause your body to get dehydrated much faster. Conditions such as
diabetes also raise your susceptibility to dehydration. Skip the ginger
ale and go for plain, pure water. You may need to supplement with a rehydration
solution. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
How to Prevent Dehydration While Exercising
Athletes and avid exercisers need to be especially aware of their water
intake, since they are losing more fluids through sweat. Don’t drink
too much, but find the right balance for your body. Drink water before
and after exercising in order to stay hydrated. “Water load”
the day before or several hours before strenuous activity, and keep drinking
water throughout the activity—roughly every 20 minutes—in
order to avoid dehydration.
Pay Attention to the Weather!
If you are living in a hot and / or humid environment, you will need to
take extra precautions against dehydration. Other environments that affect
your body’s hydration needs include high elevations and conditioned
Other Tips for Avoiding Dehydration
Remember these tips during the summer to help avoid dehydration:
- Use wet towels or a water mister to keep your skin cool
- Do NOT listen to workout “gurus” who encourage you to get dehydrated
for fitness results
- Watch the weather, and dress and plan accordingly
- NEVER leave a child or pet in a hot car
- If you begin to feel dehydrated while working or exercising, take a break
- Replenish your electrolytes with non-caffeinated sports drinks or some
fruits such as apples, oranges, or bananas
- On hot days, dress in light colors and cool, lightweight, breathable fabrics
Check back to the AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center blog for more seasonal
tips on living a healthy life season to season!
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter
you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.