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Monday, June 13, 2016

The heat is on. Can you say dehydration?

By Dr. Jon Thomas, DC, PSc.D, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician.

Courtesy National Day Calendar
Did you know that May 27th was National Heat Awareness Day? Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States. The National Weather Service asks people to think about the heat on National Heat Awareness Day, which is observed each year on the last Friday in May. That coincides with Memorial Day weekend, a weekend when many Americans start spending more time out in the sun.

One of the biggest problems people have in hot weather is staying properly hydrated. Maintaining the proper fluid level in our bodies is just as important as keeping the radiator in your car topped off. Actually, since dehydration can lead to serious illness or death, it’s more important.

In a Fitness Magazine article titled, The Ultimate Energy Drink: How to Stay Hydrated, Stephanie Dolgoff writes, "Water protects and hydrates our organs, transports nutrients to our cells and helps us stay energized and mentally sharp. It also balances the level of electrolytes and minerals such as sodium and potassium in our bodies to keep our muscles functioning properly.”

Dehydration occurs when the loss of body fluids is greater than the amount of water being taken in. More water is moving out of our cells and bodies than what we consume. Florida gets hotter than many other parts of the country. That makes it especially important to take precautions. When the heat is on, be sure to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and avoid overexertion. Some days it’s much better to stay in a cool space than it is to be outside in the heat.


Courtesy National Weather Service
Prevention
When it comes to dehydration, a fluid ounce of prevention is worth a gallon of cure. If you’re not careful, dehydration can sneak up on you very quickly, especially in places with hot and humid summer climates like Northeast Florida. Pay attention to the environment and try to anticipate situations where you may need to increase your fluid intake.

For example, if you’re going out on a kayak or canoe, take extra water in case your excursion takes a little longer than anticipated. If you’re working in the yard on a hot day, take breaks at regular intervals and drink water during your breaks. Don’t wait till you begin to get thirsty. If you do, you’ll already be well on your way to becoming dehydrated. Dehydration starts when body fluids go down by just one percent. However, people don’t even get thirsty till their fluids go down two percent. Here are some additional tips.

  • Pay close attention to weather reports and avoid exercising and working outside on very hot days or during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Plan strenuous outdoor activities for early in the day or late in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol increases water loss and even impairs your ability to sense the earliest signs of dehydration.
  • If you have to be outdoors when it is very hot, wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. And keep a bottle of water nearby.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Symptoms of Dehydration

The symptoms of dehydration range from minor to severe. They include:

  • Increased thirst. Don’t ignore thirst. Get some water or a sports drink.
  • Dry mouth, which is also referred to as cotton mouth.
  • Weakness, dizziness, palpitations, confusion, fainting.
  • The color of urine can be a reliable indicator of dehydration. According to DripDrop, clear or light yellow urine is normal. When urine is darker orange, it’s a sign that the body is running low on water.  

How much water should a person drink every day?

In the not-so-distant past, the so-called rule of thumb for recommended water consumption was one size fits all: eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. That has changed. Obviously, a large person needs more water than a smaller person. Also, a person who is active outside in a hot climate for much of the day will need more water than a person who sits in an air-conditioned office all day.  

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
According to WEBMD, people should drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water per day for each pound they weigh. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds should consume between 75 to 150 ounces of water a day depending on there activity level. Someone living in a hot climate would want to take in about 150 ounces per day. Someone in a cooler climate might need less than 100 ounces per day.

A person who calculates that he or she is drinking a lot less than the recommended amount per day should develop a plan for ramping up the quantity. It’s not a good idea to try to double the amount of water being consumed overnight. The increase in intake should be made more gradually so that the body can adjust accordingly.

Drinking fluids isn’t the only way to stay hydrated.

In an article for Daily Burn, Emily Faherty writes about foods that can help people in their efforts to stay hydrated. It’s no coincidence that watermelon has water in its name. Watermelon is 92 percent water and it does a nice job of quenching thirst. Watermelon also contains salt, calcium, and magnesium making it ideal for helping with hydration.

Celery stalks are about 95 percent water. Celery also has fiber and minerals, including potassium and vitamin K. Cucumbers, which are 96 percent water, can also help you to keep your cool in the heat. Strawberries are 92 percent water and they are loaded with fiber and vitamin C. Lettuce and spinach also have high percentages of water.

Working these foods into your diet will help you to maintain the proper fluid levels.

Self-treatment for mild dehydration

Mild dehydration can normally be corrected by consuming fluids. That doesn’t mean chugging down lots of water. Here are a few suggestions on how to take in fluids slowly to bring your levels up to where they should be:

  • Sip small amounts of water.
  • Drink carbohydrate/electrolyte-containing drinks. Sports drinks like Gatorade are good for this.
  • Add Lemon to your water to aid with cellular absorption, this will also help with your body’s alkalinity.

It’s very important to stay properly hydrated in hot weather. Maintaining an awareness of the environment around you and planning for situations where your body may need more water than normal is one of the keys to avoiding dehydration. Staying in tune with what’s going on in your own body is the other key. Taking appropriate steps to avoid dehydration and taking action quickly when symptoms present themselves will help you to maintain the balance your body needs and enjoy the summer in spite of the searing heat.      

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In this article, I have discussed dehydration, how to stay properly hydrated and avoid dehydration, symptoms of dehydration, and what to do if you become dehydrated.

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At Vibrant Life, we address all of the key elements to add vibrance and vitality to your life. This includes nutrition, chiropractic care, and fitness. If you need to consult with a chiropractor about your neck, back, or any other health concern, please contact our office to set up an appointment.

Courtesy Vibrant Life Health Center
Dr. Jon Thomas is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician. His practice, The Vibrant Life Health Center, is located in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville. His interest in health and fitness started early, and his athletic pursuits have included BMX racing, Professional Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, Baseball, Weightlifting, and Martial Arts. After studying and learning from some of the top health experts throughout the world, Dr. Thomas dedicated his life to helping people of all ages to transform their lives. The objective for each patient is to initiate the body’s healing and to work progressively toward a body that functions optimally. Dr. Thomas is seen regularly on TV on First Coast Living, where he discusses the transformations of his patients. He also speaks at events throughout the community and writes informative articles to improve the health of residents throughout Jacksonville.

3 comments:

  1. I read this on Sunday and wow was it approprate. It was very hot and humid, and at times I though I would faint. Great article on keeping hydrated. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Heat related injuries can be deadly, especially at this time of the year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Informative article! I was out on a kayak on a lake for four hours last weekend, and I'm really glad I had enough water.

    ReplyDelete