As the weather heats up is it important to remember that our body needs to be hydrated to stay cool! When the body has a lack of proper water levels it experiences dehydration. This normally occurs when performing vigorous activities in hot weather, after vomiting or intense diarrhea as well as with intense sweating. Those who are above 65, babies and young children are at the highest risk.
The telltale signs of dehydration can include dry lips and tongue, sleepiness or tiredness, decreased urine output, dry diapers (children and babies), headache, low energy levels and dizziness or lightheadedness. In certain cases when dehydration is severe it can be a life threatening problem. Severe signs and symptoms include those previously mentioned as well as extreme thirst, sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing and could even include a lack of consciousness.
If you know you are going to be outdoors doing physical activity such as gardening, hiking, sports or walking there are some drinks that can be more beneficial to keep you going. The best choices to keep you hydrated are water, unsweetened teas, diluted fruit juices, or diet soda. Some sports drinks such as Gatorade are appropriate if you are doing high strenuous activity because they are formulated to replenish electrolytes and fluids that you lose through sweat. On the other hand, alcohol, is a diuretic and will deplete electrolytes and further decrease your fluid balance within the body. So when you are outside at a BBQ this summer, remember to enjoy your day with a healthy mix of water.
Be careful of drinks high in sugar. While they can rehydrate your body, the amount of sugars present interfere with the absorption process in the intestine and stomach. It may take longer to return to the proper hydration levels.
In order to be sure you are maintaining enough fluid intake you should drink water before you start your activity and continue to do so during the activity. You should also remember to drink fluids every 15-20 minutes while performing heavy activities.
The amount of fluids that each individual needs is based on body weight and physical activity levels. The best indicator for fluid loss is urine output. Well hydrated individuals have an odor-less, light yellow colored urine. Darker yellow-orange color with an odor may indicate that you need to replenish your fluids. The amount of fluid loss can be evident if you step on a scale before and after your workout. If you weigh more than you did prior to your work out, you may have hydrated more than necessary during your work out. If you weigh less than you did, you should be drinking more. No change in weight shows that you are a proper hydrator.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) reports that there is a new heat and hydration guidelines for athletes, “Cool first, transport second.” The goal for any exertional heat stroke victim is to lower core body temperature to less than 102.5°F within 30 minutes of collapse. Cold water immersion is the most effective way to treat a patient with exertional heat stroke. The water should be 35-59°F and continuously stirred to maximize cooling. Health professionals should be aware of the new guidelines and utilize a tub of ice water on the sidelines for practices as the summer heats up.
Some quick tips for staying hydrated this summer:
– Drink water before you plan on doing an activity.
– Keep away from drinks high in sugars such as fruit juices or alcohol.
– Utilize electrolyte replacement drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade when performing activities that can last longer than one hour (such as hiking, biking, or jogging) or high intensity exercise.
– Keep an eye out for key signs of dehydration: dizziness, dry mouth, and change in urine color.
– Keep yourself hydrated during your activity, coaches bring plenty of water coolers for your teams!
– In serious cases of suspected dehydration, seek medical attention immediately.
For more information please contact, Jennifer Brester, DPT at 860-585-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to help with all your rehabilitation needs. FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers has offices in both Bristol and Southington, 860-585-5800 (Bristol) or 203-272-8490 (Southington) for your convenience.