Summer Hydration

Summer is here and it can get very hot. Dehydration is a serious medical problem that can be easily prevented by taking the proper steps. Also, know the signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and when to seek medical attention.

Water is the key to preventing dehydration. Drinking water before any activity, indoors or outdoors, is the best way to prevent dehydration. If you do not drink enough water prior to your activity, you will be trying to play “catch-up” to keep yourself hydrated. Not only should you hydrate yourself prior to activity, but you should drink water during activities and after as well.

It is acceptable to drink sports drinks such as Gatorade after activities and exercises, but water with electrolytes is the best option. Sports drinks contain added sugars, which is not good for you when trying to rehydrate.

DO NOT drink caffeinated drinks such as soda and energy drinks. These drinks will only further worsen dehydration.When it doubt, drink water!

An important note:¬†It is possible to “over-hydrate”. Drinking too much water too fast can cause fluid overload and disturb the body’s electrolyte balance. This is why it is important to drink water prior to activities and exercise so you are not drinking excess water to keep yourself hydrated.

Sometimes even when you properly hydrate yourself, sometimes it may not always be enough. In these cases, it is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and the signs of heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • headaches
  • heavy sweating
  • cold,¬†moist skin, chills
  • dizziness or fainting (syncope)
  • a weak and rapid pulse
  • muscle cramps
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing yourself with cold water and rehydrating. You may need to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • warm, dry skin with no sweating
  • strong and rapid pulse
  • confusion and/or unconsciousness
  • high fever
  • throbbing headaches
  • nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

(AHA) American Heart Association guidelines.