As summer temperatures soar, so do the numbers of patients admitted to medical centers for dehydration, fatigue, and heatstroke.
According to the Institute of Medicine, 75 percent of Americans consume far below the recommended daily minimum of water, regardless of the season — even though we all known that water is the way to go to prevent dehydration.
Sixty percent of our bodies is composed of water — 75 percent is in our muscles, 85 percent is in our brains — so water is like oil to a machine and essential to life itself, say experts.
“Dehydration means you have a negative fluid balance in your body — you’ve lost more water than you’ve taken in.,” explains Dr. Robert G. Silverman, D.C., who has a private practice in White Plains, N.Y., and holds a Master’s of Science degree in nutrition.
Silverman tells Newsmax Health that dehydration can be deadly if left untreated.
“Mild dehydration is common and easily treated simply by drinking plain water,” he says. “If you get badly dehydrated, however, you might need an IV to replace lost fluids and get your electrolytes back into balance. If more severe dehydration isn’t treated promptly, it can cause fainting, low blood pressure, heart palpitations, dizziness, and decreased urine output. Severe dehydration can even lead to death from kidney failure or cardiac arrest.
“If you have diabetes, getting dehydrated can raise your blood sugar to dangerously high levels. Fortunately, if dehydration is treated promptly, a quick and complete recovery is very likely.”
Dehydration is a danger in any weather, not just on hot days, says Silverman.
“I work with a lot of athletes who train hard year-round,” he notes. “At the start of his 10K training run, one of my athletes realized he had forgotten his water bottle. He decided that since it was cold out, he didn’t need it. He collapsed at the 8K mark and hit his head hard on the ground. He ended up in the emergency room being treated not just for dehydration but also a concussion.”
The causes of this condition can vary.
“In hot weather, dehydration is usually from sweating a lot, especially if you’re also being active,” says Silverman. “At any time, you can become dehydrated from vomiting, having diarrhea, being hung over, or just not drinking enough. If you have diabetes, you may become dehydrated if you get sick with something like a stomach bug. A high fever can also dehydrate you.”
Look for the first signs of dehydration to avoid complications. The most common symptoms of mild dehydration are feeling thirsty or having a dry mouth — your body’s natural reminders to have something to drink. If you get more dehydrated, your skin might be flushed and you might feel light-headed or a bit nauseous.
“More serious dehydration symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, mental confusion, and fainting. Even more serious are the inability to sweat and decreased urination or no urination at all,” says Silverman, the author of the 2016 book “Inside/Out Health: A revolutionary Approach to Your Body.”
Checking the color of your urine is another way to know if you’re dehydrated.
“You know you’re taking in enough fluid if your urine is clear to light yellow. Drink more if your urine is dark yellow. If it’s any darker than that, drink a sports drink and more water; seek medical care if you’re also having other symptoms of serious dehydration,” he says
The best way to treat dehydration is to avoid it by drinking plenty of plain water, especially in hot weather.
“Store your water where it will do the most good: in your stomach. If you know you’re going to be active, drink at least 8 ounces (I cup) of plain water an hour before any activity,” Silverman advises. “Take regular water breaks during the activity and drink at least 8 ounces of plain water each time. Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, Mountain Dew), sweetened drinks, and carbonated drinks.”
As a rule of thumb, over the course of a day in hot weather or when you’re physically active and sweating a lot, drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight.
“Listen to your body,” says Silverman. “If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Water or unsweetened fruit juice diluted 50 percent with water is the best treatment for mild dehydration. For more serious dehydration, a sports drink can help replace lost electrolytes and fluid.”
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