The hot summer days are here for many of us.
The news is filled with headlines of historic high temperatures. Whether you’re in an area that boasts plenty of AC or if you find yourself surprised by the higher temps in your typically milder area of the country, keeping cool is the name of the game this season.
Which means that staying hydrated has to be the top priority, even when the AC is set to constant.
The effects of intense heat on the human body make dangerously hot days a particular threat. When you don’t have enough liquids during hot days, it limits how much your body can sweat. To maintain a healthy temperature, your body needs to be able to cool itself through perspiration. When that cycle is interrupted by not consuming enough fluids, the body is at significant risk of overheating, And when the body overheats, it can lead to elevated body temperatures and an increased risk of heat stroke.
The symptoms of heat stroke are important to recognize. It may start with a headache or you might notice that your skin feels hot and dry. You might feel tired or sluggish. Dizziness and a rapid heartbeat also present as symptoms, along with more severe symptoms like confusion or a loss of consciousness. Should you or someone you’re with begin to show any symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke, contact a medical provider immediately.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of dehydration or heat stroke is by being intentional about your water intake. While almost any fluid can help rehydrate the body, water is the recommended choice of health care providers because it doesn’t carry with it the diuretic effect of many caffeinated drinks. Keep it simple when it comes to summer hydration with these tips:
Find a cup you like: You may find that you do a better job staying hydrated when you get a large cup with features you enjoy. There are a variety of insulated cups out there to keep your water cold and icy, along with a large selection of different straws and lids. Find a combo you like and keep your intake up!
How much is enough: The Mayo Clinic recommends about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women, based on research from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicines. However, it’s important to note that this research was done of hydration requirements for those living in temperate climates, so during hot summer days, you’ll want to consider increasing those amounts. The Mayo Clinic also reports that we get about 20% of our needed water intake through foods we eat and the rest through the fluids we drink.
Eat some of your water: Watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, and strawberries are all considered to be water-rich foods-and they’re also a delicious treat on hot days! Consider adding more water-rich foods to your diet during the summer to increase your fluid intake easily.
The pee tells the story: If your urine is clear or pale yellow, you’re probably getting enough water. But if it is dark yellow or amber, it could be a sign of dehydration.
It’s not about more, more, more: The right amount of water intake is a great thing. But that doesn’t mean you should be drinking gallons of it. There is a condition called hyponatremia, which is overhydration. Overly hydrating yourself can cause your blood sodium levels to be thrown off, and the results can be dangerous. While it’s important to have enough water in hot conditions, it’s not necessary to overdo it. Follow your signs of thirst, track how much water you’ve had, and don’t push past reasonable amounts of fluid during the day.
Take some time to cool down: While the sunny weather can be a beacon to get outside, too much time in the sun can wear you down and sap your reserves. If you have the chance to take a break in the shade or indoors, give yourself some time to reset.
If you have any concerns about your hydration status, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice. And if you or someone you’re with begins to show signs of dehydration, contact your medical provider immediately. With a plan for staying hydrated here in the thick of summer, you’ll be able to safely enjoy the long days at the beach, lake, or wherever your summer days take you.