One of the most common summer health problems is dehydration. You’re outdoors, your active, you’re perspiring, if you don’t get enough to drink, you could be in serious trouble.
The body is normally two-thirds water. Water is lost through perspiration and other means, and when you lose too much, you get dehydrated. Left untreated, dehydration can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage and even death. Fortunately, it is easy to treat, but it’s important to know the signs.
The most obvious indicator is thirst, but being dehydrated doesn’t always make you feel thirsty. Dehydration can cause headaches or dizziness without you feeling thirst at all. Other signs include dry mouth, dry skin, and weakness or muscle fatigue.
If you feel logy that’s a fairly clear indicator that you need fluid, but so can snapping at people; the grouchiness isn’t just from heat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when you’re dehydrated you’ll go to the bathroom less often, and your urine will be highly concentrated and very dark yellow. In fact, if it’s not close to clear, you should probably be getting more liquids.
The best treatment is prevention. If you’re going to be doing something you know will will be physical, drink plenty of fluids first to anticipate perspiration losses and muscular recovery. One expert recommends one additional liter of water for every hour you expect to spend doing strenuous activity. Especially if you’re already dehydrated, it’s better to drink more slowly over a longer period of time than to overwhelm your body with a lot all at once.
In adults, water—bottled if tap water isn’t clean or readily available—is always a good bet, though sports drinks and carbohydrate solutions can help restore other important substances lost through perspiration along with water. Have salt only in moderation drinks with sugar (even fruit juice), alcohol or caffeine and anything carbonated; all these can deplete fluids rather than replenish them.
If you let dehydration go too long, it may require medical treatment, including intravenous fluids. Contact a doctor immediately if you or someone else experiences bloody stool or vomit, unusually dry eyes with no tears or sunken eyes, rapid heart rate, eight hours without urination or dry skin that returns to normal slowly after being pinched.