Guarding against dehydration in the summer sun

In that rush out the door and into the summer sun (and heat), it’s still important — and, for most, crucial — not to neglect proper hydration, even in mild summer temperatures.

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 serious medical condition resulting from the loss of too much of those fluids, occurring when the body loses more fluids than it’s taking in, and it does not have enough to properly function. While it often occurs from simply not taking in the proper amount of fluids, 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

The first signs of dehydration are seemingly mild, and can 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

Replacing lost fluids by drinking water or electrolyte-fortified drinks is an effective treatment to stave off mild dehydration.

Severe dehydration, though, can be life-threatening. Call 911 and seek medical attention right away if 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.

Drinking enough water every day is essential for overall health. Daily fluid intake recommendations, which includes water consumed in foods and 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.