Stay Hydrated in the Summer

Summertime is full of fun activities including walking, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and just enjoying time outdoors. While the warmth of a summer day allows us to enjoy being outdoors, overexposure to heat can also be dangerous to your health. For relief from the heat, the body's natural cooling mechanism causes sweating, but under certain conditions it cannot cool down the body enough, causing a person's body temperature to rise rapidly. Very high body temperatures can in turn damage the brain and other vital organs. That's why while enjoying summertime activities it is important to take precautionary measures to facilitate the body's cooling mechanisms to prevent heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Click on body fluid balance to learn more.

The most common symptoms of heat-related illnesses include headache, fatigue and loss of energy, dizziness, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, thirst, nausea, vomiting, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and a change in mental status such as confusion. Other symptoms include a change in body temperature. In the case of heat stroke, the body's temperature may rise to dangerous levels, while for heat exhaustion the body's temperature may fall to below normal. If you begin to experience these symptoms, or observe them in someone around you, it is best to find a cooler place and immediately seek medical attention. Drinking enough fluids can easily prevent heat-related illnesses. Click on heat-related health problems and emergencies and how to prevent them for more information.

So what should you do to protect yourself from developing heat-related problems while enjoying your outdoor activities? Start by taking precautionary measures to cool your body down and keep it cool. One simple and effective thing to do is drink plenty of water!!! During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink 2-4 glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. During hot weather, it is suggested to drink more liquid than your thirst indicates. This is especially true for persons 65 years of age or older, infants and children up to four years of age, people who are overweight, people who overexert during work or exercise, and people who are ill or are on certain medication. Click on hypothermia hazards and hydration for more information specific to older adults. The modified food guide pyramid for people over 70 may serve as a helpful tool.

Here are some tips that can help prevent developing heat-related illnesses on hot summer days:
--Drink lots of fluids, but avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and sugar-filled beverages, as they will cause you to lose more fluid. Certain foods such as watermelon, lettuce, grapefruit, broccoli, tomato, carrots, among others, also serve as good sources of water and other fluids that are essential to the body.
--Wear loose and light clothing.
--Allow your body to adjust to the hot summer season by being less active than usual for about a week, then building up to what you are used to doing as you adjust to the heat.
--If you are exercising, it is best to do so during the cooler parts of the day, such as early in the morning before the sun has risen or towards the evening, when the sun has set.
--Eat foods that are a good source of fluids.

Stay here for more Tips for Staying Healthy and Hydrated.

Staying cool, making simple changes in your fluid intake, and avoiding overexertion during hot weather can help you to remain safe and healthy during the summer months.

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