The Importance of Staying Hydrated This Summer
Summer is officially here and the heat is definitely on. With some parts of the country already reaching a scorching 41˚ degrees Celsius, this summer is set to be one of the hottest South Africa has experienced.
When the temperatures rise, getting enough to drink is important whether you’re playing sports, travelling or just sitting in the office. If you don’t, dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.
What is Dehydration?
It’s normal to lose water from sweating, breathing, urinating and even crying. Usually you replace the lost liquid by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. However, when your body doesn’t have as much water as it needs, you can get dehydrated. There are also many that may lead to dehydration, including:
- Heat exposure,
- Too much exercise or work-related activity
- Increased urination due to infection
- Diseases such as diabetes
Even mild dehydration can affect your ability to perform day-to-day tasks, and by the time you have that cotton-mouth feeling, it’s already too late. In addition to being thirsty, here are nine more signs that it’s time to head for the water cooler:
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle cramping
- Feeling really tired
- Urinating less
- Dark/tea-coloured urine
- Dry skin
- Dizzy or light-headed
Three Steps to Hydration
Drinking water isn’t the only way to ensure you stay hydrated this summer. While it may seem like the most obvious method, there are other ways to help you avoid dehydration:
- Eat the right food: Foods that are high in electrolytes and water, like in-season fruit and salad vegetables, can be more effective in keeping you hydrated than just drinking water. Add a little salt to ensure your body absorbs the liquid properly.
- Dress the part: Be sure to check the weather each morning, and dress accordingly. Wearing clothes that aren’t light or breathable enough can cause you to sweat a great deal more than usual.
- Drink something else: If you prefer not to drink aqua, try drinking coconut water or sports drinks, e.g. Energade or Powerade. These contain important electrolytes that help you stay hydrated during warm summer days and strenuous exercise. Remember to drink it slowly in order to give your body a chance to absorb.
When to Get Some Help?
If your dehydration is serious, you may need to see a doctor to get treated with intravenous (IV) fluids. You should get medical attention immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Poor skin elasticity
- Lethargy, confusion, or coma
Avoid the midsummer madness by ensuring you get into the habit of staying hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you at all times and watch out for the signs of dehydration, especially during exercise or in hot weather.