By Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden
We all make plans to enjoy the outdoors in summer. But did you make plans for ensuring that you are well-hydrated?
Dehydration can take place quickly and can be dangerous, even fatal. It occurs when too much water is lost from the body, not enough is taken in, or both.
The three major ways we lose water are through breathing out, sweating and urinating. Diarrhea, vomiting and uncontrolled diabetes also can be causes of excess water loss.
Many summer activities involve outdoor exertion, and it is important to remember that sweating can lead to rapid depletion of water. Just taking an energetic walk in hot weather can cause as much as 16 ounces of fluid to leave the body. More significant exertion or sports -- beach volleyball, biking, hiking, swimming -- can lead to much greater water loss.
Signs of dehydration can include a dry mouth, lack of tears, less sweating, muscle cramps, palpitations, dark yellow urine, lightheadedness (especially when standing), and nausea and vomiting. Confusion, weakness and even loss of consciousness can occur when dehydration is severe.
For mild to moderate dehydration, oral fluid replacement in small, frequent amounts is recommended. Clear-fluid options include water, clear broth, ice pops and electrolyte-containing replacement fluids such as Pedialyte or Gatorade. The average adult needs 2 to 3 liters of fluids a day; if dehydrated, more may be needed. For severe symptoms, including confusion, lethargy or coma, it is advisable to go to the emergency room or call 911.
Better yet, try to prevent dehydration by keeping in mind the following:
* Strenuous activities should not be scheduled during the hottest times of the day, generally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Head into shaded areas as frequently as possible.
* Wear hats and light, thin clothes to block some of the heat.
* Hydrate often. A simple rule for hydration in the heat is one glass of water before, one during and one after any moderate exertion lasting an hour.
* The young and the elderly are most at risk for dehydration. Vigilance is important in very hot conditions for these age groups.
Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter Downtown Integrative Medicine program in Sacramento, Calif.
c. The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee