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Staying Hydrated in the Heat

Everyone gets excited about summer- school is out, and the weather is beautiful! But hot summer temperatures can cause concern if you aren’t drinking enough water. Low water intake can lead to dehydration and heat stroke, especially in the sun for long periods. So let’s take a closer look at each illness and how it relates to hydration and proper treatment.

 

Dehydration

By definition, dehydration is when a person’s body loses water and is not replenished by drinking or eating foods with liquid. In addition, sickness with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, and diarrhea can cause dehydration. While it can occur year-round, high temperatures and sun exposure increase the chance of experiencing dehydration due to our bodies sweating. Sweating is an essential bodily process that lowers body temperatures and releases salts like potassium and sodium.

Common indicators include thirst, infrequent urination, lightheadedness, fatigue, confusion, dry mouth, and skin. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, treat them by drinking lots of water and supplementing with beverages that replenish electrolytes. For severe cases of dehydration, it is best to see a local health care provider.

 

Heat Stroke

This life-threatening condition is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures and direct sunlight. In environments with intense heat, high humidity, extreme physical activity, and dehydration, a person’s body may not be able to lower body temperature through sweating. Therefore, as internal temperatures increase rapidly, heat stroke can occur. 

Symptoms of heat stroke are similar to those of dehydration but include these specific indicators: disorientation, high body temperature, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness. There is no at-home treatment for heat stroke due to its severity. Instead, we recommend taking the individual directly to a healthcare provider for medical attention.

 

As you can see, these heat and sun-related illnesses can be alarming! That’s why it’s crucial to get ahead of the game with proper prevention. Not only should you be drinking the recommended amount of water each day and maintaining a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, but always ensure access to shaded areas when doing activities on super hot days. Also, remember to cool down when needed, and most of all, listen to your body!