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Thursday, June 23, 2011


Dehydration can be a problem in the summer, especially for the young and the elderly.  Of course you can become dehydrated at any time, but the heat tends to make things worse.  I decided to talk about dehydration because a child I know had been exercising and working in the heat but not drinking enough.  He became lightheaded at practice and the coach then discovered that the child had mowed the lawn before practice but obviously hadn't had plenty of fluids.  Rest, 3 bottles of water and a lecture about dehydration was the coach's solution.

So what is dehydration and how do we prevent it?  The body is made up of up to 75% water and has very fine parameters for having enough water.  Dehydration occurs when more water is leaving the body than is being taken in.  This occurs through breathing, sweating and urinating.  When the body is becoming dehydrated, it tries to conserve water.  The kidneys limit the amount of water leaving the body and your urine becomes dark yellow and concentrated.  Other signs of dehydration are: thirst, dry mouth, no tears, sweating ceases, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations and loss of skin elasticity.  If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious problems, even death.

When it is hot, and you are working or exercising, it is important to drink extra fluids.  Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink.  When I am exercising, I always have a bottle of water and drink frequently.  If you exercise regularly in the heat, you may need to drink something to replace electrolytes as well, such as Gatorade.

My experiences with the elderly have taught me that they often do not drink enough.  One common reason is that they feel they have to make too many trips to the bathroom.  You can point out that they may become dizzy and fall and break a bone if they don't drink enough but that may not convince them.  If you care for an elderly person, try making lemonade or tea to get them to drink.  Get an insulated glass and set it near them so it is handy to drink from all day.  Give them food that contains alot of water as well such as jello, watermelon, cantaloupe or soups with broth.  Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and too much fruit juice.  Try adding cucumber, lemon or lime slices to a glass of water.  It looks pretty and improves the taste.  These tips will work for children too.

I will not be posting next week so I will see you after the 4th.  Have a safe and happy holiday and remember your sunscreen and water!    

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