Summer fun means outside activities in the warm sun, from strenuous pursuits like biking, hiking, and volleyball-playing, to more leisurely enjoyments like sunbathing on a float. No matter how you plan to enjoy the steamy summer months, maintaining hydration should be right up there with sunscreen on your list of important hot weather priorities.
Dehydration is a condition that ranges from mild to serious, and can happen quicker than you think. Right Diagnosis defines dehydration as "an abnormal condition in which the body's cells are deprived of an adequate amount of water." One of the main situations factoring into a person becoming dehydrated is heat.
Think you drink enough water and don't need to worry about dehydration? Consider these points:
Dehydration symptoms range from unpleasant confusion, muscle weakness, and fatigue to extremely dangerous ones like seizures, kidney failure, and death. The good news is that staying hydrated in the first place is relatively easy if you take a few precautions up front.
#1: Drink plenty of water
Make it a habit of carrying water with you during the summer months, and sipping on it throughout the day, especially if you are planning on outside activities. Invest in a couple of BPA-free water bottles for yourself and your family to tote with them on their summer adventures.
Not a big fan of plain water? Try adding lemon, cucumber, and mint sprigs to liven it up! Mix up in a big pitcher the night before so the flavor has time to penetrate. Another option is flavor packets, which are individual packets of flavors like green tea, watermelon, and peach.
#2: Eat the right foods
Liquids aren't the only way your body gets water. Avoid dehydration by eating foods with a high water content.
Choices like celery, watermelon, cucumbers, carrots, and citrus fruits all offer exceptional hydrating ability. Pack these as snacks for the pool or beach, or to enjoy before and after an outdoor workout.
#3: Steer clear of certain drinks
As yummy and refreshing as an icy beer or frosty margarita tastes, alcohol can contribute to dehydration. If you decide to indulge, limit yourself to one or two, and drink a large glass of water along with your beverage to counteract the alcohol's effects.
#4: Avoid overexertion
Exercise is a wonderfully healthy pursuit; however, keep an eye on the temperature. If it is going to be exceptionally hot and humid, choose to exercise either early in the morning, or after sunset, when temperatures are lower and the sun isn't beaming.
#5: Wear proper attire
Dress in light, airy clothing in fabrics that breathe. Protect your head with a cap or hat that shades your face. Avoid black clothing, which tends to absorb the sun and make you hotter.
#6: Be prepared
Extreme heat makes everyday issues like a flat tire or dead battery life-threatening. Visit a mechanic to confirm your vehicle is in good shape to lessen the chances of getting stranded. Carry extra water or sports drinks in your vehicle, and keep your cell phone charged. If your car breaks down, either stay in your car to wait for help, or stand in the grass instead of on the sizzling pavement.
Staying hydrated is essential for good health all the time, and during the summer in particular. Implement these easy tips into your daily routine so you and your family maintain hydration and enjoy hot weather outdoor fun.
Dr. Andy Johnson