Baby, it’s hot outside. Whether you work outdoors or are spending more time at the pool on the weekends, the high temperatures bring an increased risk of dehydration.
The body’s cells, tissues and organs, including the heart, all require water to operate. Each day, you lose water when you breathe, sweat and use the restroom. Water loss happens more quickly when the weather’s hot and when you’re physically active.
Staying hydrated is about much more than simply drinking fluids. Check out these five facts to help keep you and your family well-hydrated this summer.
- Thirst isn’t always the best indicator of hydration. While thirst can signal that your body needs more water, it may not do so until you’re already in the early stages of dehydration.
That’s why it’s important to drink fluids even when you don’t feel thirsty. Don’t wait to simply quench your thirst.
Once you’re dehydrated, you may experience:
- Decreased urine output
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Dizziness or confusion
- Muscle cramps
- Certain people are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Everyone is at higher risk of dehydration when it’s hot outside or when exercising, particularly at a high intensity. Older adults are also at a higher risk, because the brain’s ability to sense when the body needs more water lessens as you age.
You may also need to increase the amount of water you’re drinking if you:
- Have certain medical conditions, including kidney stones, bladder infection, vomiting, diarrhea or fever
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are trying to lose weight
- Staying hydrated isn’t just about drinking water. While drinking water is the best way to replenish your body’s water levels, you can also up your fluid levels by drinking other beverages and eating water-rich foods.
Juice, milk and even caffeinated beverages all contribute to your daily water intake. Limit your caffeine intake when it’s particularly hot outside, though, because caffeine can cause an increased need to urinate, which causes water loss.
You can also replenish your body’s water levels through the foods you eat. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content, making them good options to help your body fuel up and stay hydrated. Certain types of produce include particularly high levels, including:
And the best news is: Most of these fruits and veggies are in-season during the summer, so eat up!
- You don’t necessarily need eight glasses of water a day. You may have heard that rule of thumb — that you need six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. But different people need different amounts of water.
The amount of water your body needs will vary depending on a number of factors, such as:
- Your bodyweight
- How active you are
- How fast your metabolism is
- Where you live (In the heat of the South, we need more fluids!)
- The temperature outside
- Your health
- Your alcohol intake
You can’t accurately gauge whether you’re hydrated by whether you drink a specific amount of water each day. For a better measure of whether you’re well-hydrated, take a look at the color of your urine. When you’re hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow or almost clear. If it’s a darker color or has an odor, drink up to replenish your body’s water.
- Like any other habit, it is possible to train yourself to stay hydrated. If you have trouble remembering to drink fluids, schedule water breaks. Try drinking water when you get up in the morning, when you eat a meal or snack, and before bedtime. Or drink water every hour on the hour.
Don’t like plain water? Try carbonated or calorie-free flavored water, or add lemon, lime, orange or berries to your water.
Severe dehydration can be life-threatening. If you experience the symptoms of dehydration, seek prompt medical attention. Erlanger Health System is the region’s only Level I Trauma Center and Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center (CRPC), the highest level of pediatric trauma care. Erlanger also has emergency care available in three locations when you need it.