Stay Hydrated When Temperatures Soar
Most people know that staying hydrated is important in the summer months. But did you know that losing just four percent of your body weight due to dehydration decreases physical performance by 50 percent? This loss of fluid can happen in less than two hours when exercising or working in the heat. When the body loses more water than it takes in through food and beverages, it becomes dehydrated.
According to the U.S. Army Public Health Center, every summer thousands of service members are treated for heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. As dehydration worsens due to prolonged exercise, sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, blood thickens. The heart strains to move this blood, which increases the heart rate and blood pressure. The kidneys hold on to urine, which becomes dark in color. Dizziness and confusion set in. Severe dehydration can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Treatment requires fluids delivered through an IV.
Mild dehydration doesn’t normally cause issues, and may even go unnoticed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even mild dehydration negatively affects mood, brain and body functioning. Listen to your body. Follow these tips from the CDC to help you prevent heat illness and stay hydrated this summer:
- When working or exercising outside in the heat, drink 1 cup (8 oz.) of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
- If you’re outside and sweating for several hours, drink sports drinks with balanced electrolytes.
- Eat foods with high water content.
- Avoid sugary beverages, alcohol and drinks with high caffeine or sugar.
- Schedule outside work and exercise during the coolest times of the day.
If you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. Pay attention to other signs of dehydration, which include:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Muscle cramps
- Lack of tears
- Dark and/or infrequent urination
- Elevated heart rate, blood pressure and/or breathing
If you notice these signs, drinking plenty of water is the first line of defense. Sports drinks or rehydration solutions are important because glucose and electrolyte imbalances can be dangerous.
Check out more tips for enjoying a safe and healthy summer from TRICARE.