From the Wellness Center
Summer is upon us and that brings us warmer temperatures, higher humidity and some risks that go along with the season. One particular problem we may see more often at this time of year is dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the water content in the body falls to a dangerously low level. Water accounts for about 60% of a manís body weight or 50% in a woman. The water content must be kept within a fairly narrow range for healthy functioning of cells and tissues. The concentration in the bodyís fluids of mineral salts and other dissolved substances must also be kept within a narrow range.
Normally, dehydration is prevented by the sensation of thirst which encourages one to drink when the body is short of water. The thirst mechanism may fail because water is not available or because of abnormally large losses of water from the body.
Even in temperate climates, a minimum of three pints of water continues to be lost every 24 hours through the skin via perspiration, from the lungs into the air, and in the urine which rids the body of waste. Large amounts of water may be lost in vomit or diarrhea. The thirst sensation may not encourage sufficient intake to balance the losses.
Symptoms of water depletion include severe thirst, dry lips & tongue, rapid breathing and heart rate, dizziness and confusion. Urine output decreases and urine color turns dark. If there is salt depletion as a result of excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, headaches, cramps and lethargy may also occur.
One of the simplest ways to prevent dehydration is to drink enough water to produce urine that is consistently pale yellow. This often means drinking well beyond the point of thirst.
Salt losses from heavy sweating need to be replaced either in the diet or by adding a quarter of a teaspoon of table salt to each glass of drinking water. Bottled mineral water can help maintain the intake of salt. For vomiting and diarrhea, special salt and glucose re-hydration mixtures such as Gatorade may be used to help restore balance.
On these hot, humid days, minimize your risk for overexertion and possible dehydration by exercising good judgment and a little extra caution.
Keep cool and enjoy the summer!