Written by Nicole Glenn, Editor of Teen InFluential
With the summer heat rising, it’s not surprising you may find yourself parched. Not only is it uncomfortable to feel thirsty, it can also be dangerous. If left unattended, by not keeping up your water intake, it can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, and potentially other life-threatening situations.
Dehydration is defined by Hopkins Medicine as a serious heat-related disease that typically occurs if an individual is overexposed to the sun and not drinking enough water. When the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as sodium and potassium, it can no longer maintain its strength. Although symptoms are different in everyone, some common signs to look for are thirst, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, less-frequent urination, dry mouth and mucous membranes, increased heart rate and breathing.
Heat stroke is one of the most severe cases of heat-related diseases and may need emergency medical attention. If working or partaking in activities in hot areas, you want to focus on staying hydrated. If a person becomes dehydrated and cannot sweat enough to cool his or her body, their internal temperature may rise to dangerously high levels. Although some symptoms are like dehydration, heat stroke can also lead to disorientation, agitation, sluggishness, seizures, hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, a high body temperature, loss of consciousness, rapid heartbeat, and even hallucinations.
So how can you and your family avoid a trip to the ER because of dehydration and heat stroke this summer? First and foremost, be aware of the symptoms and be on the lookout. If you or anyone around you begin to show symptoms, have them rest in a shaded area and have them drink water or liquids with electrolytes such as Gatorade. Put cool water on the skin and fan them in order to stimulate sweat. In the case of heat stroke, have them lie on their backs with their feet slightly elevated.
In order to help prevent dehydration and heat stroke make sure to drink plenty of hydrating fluids such as water and sports drinks. Especially on hot and humid days, avoid liquids known to cause dehydration such as sodas and alcohol. Try to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day and aim for your outdoor activities to be in the morning or late evening when it is cooler. Dress for the heat by wearing lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing and by wearing a hat and sunglasses. If you want to spend more time outdoors this summer, you can also build your tolerance by gradually increasing your time outdoors to get your body used to the heat.
Don’t let the heat limit your summer fun.
Drink plenty of water, take a break as needed, and you can stay hydrated all summer long.