Dehydration: Keep your guard up over the closing weeks of summer

Summer will soon move into fall, but proper hydration is still crucial.

Summer — it’s the time of year for venturing outdoors, and there’s still plenty of time to get in all of those activities that soon we'll have to be abandoned as the cold air of fall and winter moves it.

In that rush out the door and into the heat, though, it’s still important — and for most it’s crucial — not to neglect hydration.

Bodies are made up of approximately 60 percent water, and it’s that water and other fluids that regulates the body’s temperature, protects its organs and tissues, while also keeping the mouth, eyes and nose moist. These fluids also support bodily functions, such as getting rid of waste.

Dehydration is the condition resulting from the loss of too much of those fluids. It occurs when the body loses more fluids than it’s taking in, and it does not have enough fluids to properly function.

Dehydration often occurs from simply not drinking enough fluids, but diarrhea, vomiting, fever also contribute to dehydration.

Those most at risk for dehydration include:

  • People with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or kidney problems or those who take medications that cause them to urinate or sweat more often
  • Infants, young children and older adults
  • People who exercise or work outdoors, especially during hot weather

Symptoms of mild dehydration include:

  • Increased thirst, especially when accompanied with dry mouth
  • More frequent urination
  • Sweating less than usual
  • Darker colored urine
  • Dry skin
  • Headache and/or dizziness
  • Fatigue

The treatment for dehydration is to replace the fluids and electrolytes that you have lost. For mild dehydration, drinking fluids may help.

Severe dehydration can be life-threatening. Get medical help right away and call 911 if the symptoms include:

  • Fever greater than 101
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Fainting
  • Lack of urination
  • Rapid heartbeat and/or rapid breathing
  • Chest and/or abdominal pain

The treatment for dehydration is to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes that you have lost, possibly through an IV solution.

For mild dehydration, drinking fluids will help limit the severity.

Drinking enough water every day is essential for overall health. Daily fluid intake recommendations, which includes water consumed by foods, drinking water and other beverages, varies by age, sex and medical conditions.

Doctors can guide their patients on the proper amount of water they should be consuming every day—not just during the summer, but throughout the year.