By Amanda Ciervo, CCSU Nursing Student | New Britain Health District at July 13, 2012 | 8:45 am | Print
As the summer months are here it’s time to start talking about a hot topic: dehydration. Dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper balance of water, fluids and electrolytes. Those at highest risk for becoming dehydrated are older adults, young children and pregnant women.
Fluid loss occurs throughout the day even when doing the smallest of tasks such as walking, gardening or sitting in the sun. Dehydration occurs even more quickly when doing strenuous tasks including playing sports or yard-work.
The early stages of dehydration often don’t cause any symptoms, but you may begin to feel a bit thirsty. As the dehydration progresses you may begin to feel weak, dizzy and start to have cramps in your arms and legs. It is possible for dehydration to progress to a more serious state which would include a rapid heartbeat, dry skin, irritability and drowsiness. If you or someone else is complaining of any of the above symptoms it is important to seek medical opinion and or treatment.
According to the Cleveland Clinic you should drink at least two cups (16 ounces) of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. After that, you should have another cup of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. If you plan on being outside for an hour or less, water will do the trick to keep you hydrated. However, if you plan on being outside for longer than an hour at a time, bring a sports drink with you. Sports drinks not only replace to fluids you’ve lost, but also the electrolytes that keep your body going. Also, in the summer months try to stay away from caffeine and alcohol. These fluids actually pull fluids away from your body and will dehydrate you faster.
The best way to treat dehydration is to prevent it from happening. Avoid going in the sun mid-day since this is when the sun is strongest, wear sunscreen and avoid wearing dark colors. Most importantly, drink water even when you’re not thirsty. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you it’s dehydrated!
By looking for these warning signs and following these tips you can look forward to a summer of fun in the sun.