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Beat The Heat This Summer

Welcome to SUMMER! Summer is my favorite season, especially because my husband and two young boys love the beach as much as I do! Summer means longer days enjoying sunshine, cookouts, and outdoor sports. It also means HEAT! New England can get extremely hot and humid in the summer: temperatures in the high 80s and 90s are not uncommon. While most of us know to protect ourselves with hats and sunscreen, it's important to stay hydrated, too!

As a native New Englander, an experienced healthcare provider, and the mother of two active young boys, I’ve learned just how essential it is to consume an adequate amount of fluids each day, especially during the dog days of summer. Below is a guide to some heat related conditions and symptoms, how to easily detect dehydration, and some information on how much water we need to stay healthy.


HEAT RELATED CONDITIONS AND SYMPTOMS

Those most at risk for serious complications from any of these conditions are young children, older adults, and those with chronic health problems, but anybody can become affected.


Dehydration

  • Dehydration occurs when a person expends more fluid than they have consumed. In summer, this can happen from excessive sweating. It’s a problem because the body cannot function properly when fluid deficient. Think about it… you’re about 60% water! Your body needs all those fluids to be healthy!

    • Symptoms of dehydration include a lack of energy, dizziness when changing positions, dark urine, and urinating less frequently. A Simple Way To Detect Dehydration Monitor the color of your urine! Generally speaking, if you’re feeling well and your urine is clear or light yellow, you’re hydrated! If your urine is concentrated and dark, drink some water! Dark urine indicates that your body needs help flushing out a high concentration of toxins and waste. Please note that this rule only applies to those who have not ingested medication, vitamins, or foods which alter the color of urine.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating.

    • Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, pale, and clammy skin, headache, dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, vomiting, a fast and weak pulse, and body weakness or muscle cramps.


Heat Stroke

  • Heat stroke is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention in an ER. It occurs when the body is entirely unable to control its internal temperature.

    • Symptoms of heat stroke include a temperature of 104°F or higher, a throbbing headache, altered mental state, or unconsciousness, no sweating, red, hot, and dry skin, nausea or vomiting, and rapid pulse.


SO HOW MUCH SHOULD I DRINK?

At one time, most health care providers recommended that we drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day to stay healthy. Today, Mayo Clinic recommends that men drink 15.5 glasses a day, while women drink 11.5 glasses a day. US News says the ounces we drink per day should equal half of our body weight. Harvard Medical School thinks 4-6 glasses per day is sufficient. It's confusing! I recommend that if you are anticipating being outdoors and active on a hot day, drink more water than you usually do ahead of time. Take frequent breaks while outdoors to replenish your fluids. For healthy, well-nourished adults, over hydration is very rarely a problem. Athletes and those with medical conditions should check with their doctor to assess how much to increase their fluid intake.


Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and hydrated summer!



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