Stay Happy and Hydrated This Summer
Whether you’re laying out by the pool, enjoying a family boat ride on the lake or playing an overly competitive game of beach volleyball, there’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had during the summer season. With high summer temperatures and increased levels of activity, it’s essential to drink enough fluids, as extended periods of time spent in the heat can take a toll on your hydration. Read on to find out the signs and risks of dehydration, as well as some helpful tips to stay healthy and hydrated this summer.
Benefits of hydration
Water is the human body’s principal chemical component, making up 50% to 70% of your body weight. Water is vital to the maintenance and performance of the body, making hydration all the more essential in the hot summer months. In addition to helping regulate internal body temperature, proper hydration aids in metabolizing food and regulating hunger, as well as flushing bodily waste through urination, bowel movements and perspiration. Water also helps to lubricate and cushion joints and plays a role in producing saliva, which is essential to keeping the mouth clean from food debris.
The recommended daily fluid intake varies from person to person, depending on their level of activity and overall health. As a baseline recommendation, men are encouraged to drink approximately 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) and women 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) of fluids per day. It is possible to consume too much fluids, which can be lethal for those who have heart disease or an electrolyte abnormality, but this is extremely rare.
Signs and risks of dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it consumes, which results in the body’s organs, cells and tissues being unable to function properly, causing complications. The most common causes of dehydration include excessive sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. In addition to those who have been exposed to high temperatures for excessive periods of time, higher risk groups for dehydration include older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic conditions and people who live in high altitudes.
Common symptoms of mild dehydration include headache, dry mouth, dizziness, increased thirst and decreased urination. In more severe cases, people can experience rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, lack of sweat production, dark urine and fast breathing. Severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention, while mild dehydration can be resolved by drinking fluids and resting indoors or in the shade for 30 to 60 minutes.
Tips to stay hydrated this summer
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning — not only will you begin your day hydrated, but it will help boost your energy and metabolism to get the day started on the right foot.
- Set notifications on your phone or other smart device to remind you to hydrate throughout the day.
- Limit your alcohol intake — alcohol can easily dehydrate you, especially when you’re outside in the heat. If you choose to drink alcohol, then have a glass of water in between beverages to ensure you stay hydrated.
- Looking for foods that can help keep you cool? Strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes, bell peppers and soup are high in water content, helping you stay hydrated and cool.
- Always carry a water bottle with you to help get you in the habit of regularly sipping water throughout your day.
- In addition to water, you can help boost your fluid levels by drinking coffee, coconut water or sugar-free seltzer/juice.
- Monitor your urine color — the clearer the urine, the more hydrated you are, whereas darker-colored urine may be a sign of dehydration.
For patients who are at higher risk for dehydration, Midwest Express Clinic offers IV hydration therapy at all clinic locations. IV hydration therapy is an effective treatment method that can quickly restore the body’s fluid and electrolyte levels. To find a clinic nearest you, visit midwestexpressclinic.com/locations.