Staying Hydrated During the Summer Months
Posted Monday, May 5th, 2014 by Mike Trevino
Ah, summertime. How nice it is to break out of winter's cold and the gloomy gray skies of spring and trade up for warm days and plenty of sunshine. With more time spent outside, and more physical activity comes the increased likelihood of overheating your body's systems. In extreme cases, heat stroke and heat exhaustion—both potentially deadly conditions—can follow. The key to avoid overtaxing your body while working outside in the summer is simple: drink water. Lots of water.
Many people will wait to drink until they're thirsty. That seems logical enough, but really, if you're thirsty, your body is already wanting for water. Other symptoms of dehydration include lack of perspiration, lightheadedness, irritability, and dark or infrequent urination. Though mild hydration can usually be managed at home, more serious cases may require intravenous hydration treatment—a service that is provided by Health Care Unlimited. Dehydration coupled with heat and physical exertion can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, which is characterized by disorientation, extreme sweating—or, in its later stages, very hot, dry skin—slurred speech, and chills or trembling. Senior citizens and little children are especially susceptible to heat-related health problems.
In the height of summertime, steps must be taken to avoid getting dehydrated and overtaxing your body:
- Be prepared. In hot weather, physical activity outdoors isn't something to be taken lightly. Prepare for a session of outdoor work—whether it's going for a jog or weeding the garden—the way you would if you were going on a big hike. Go into the work well-fed and fully hydrated. Sit down with a big tall glass of water, and drink slowly. Then, you'll be ready to head outdoors.
- Be easy on yourself. Avoid outdoor work if your body is already in recovery mode—like from a bad head cold or even a hangover. Illness of any kind puts a strain on your body, and the heat and exertion will only compound the problem. If you're hung over, you're likely already dehydrated, as metabolizing alcohol requires a tremendous amount of water. Give yourself a full day to get over a big night; you'll be glad you did.
- Make it convenient. When you're outside in the heat, make it as easy as possible to grab a sip of liquid on-the-go. Invest in an insulated thermos or water bottle—something that can sit out in the sunshine with you without turning lukewarm in a matter of minutes. That way, whenever you rest for a minute, you can hydrate yourself.
- Make it delicious. If you dislike the taste of plain water, try adding a simple lemon or lime slice. If you like those powdered drink mixes, then use those—but avoid anything with a lot of sugar, like Kool-Aid or soda. Sugar like that can be hard on your stomach if you're already a little dehydrated. Herbal iced tea is also an option.
A little awareness of the signs of dehydration, and some preparedness tips will go a long way to ensure you have a long, happy summer of working and playing outdoors.