Summer is on the way out, but hot days are still with us, especially with higher year-round temperatures becoming more common. This means the risk of becoming dehydrated can sneak up on you as you work or exercise outdoors.
How do you know if you’re in danger, and what can you do about it?
If you start feeling extremely thirsty, fatigued or dizzy, you’re getting dehydrated and at risk of seizures, cardiac arrhythmia or shock.
Check your urine. Think light lemonade, not dark or orangey liquid. Remember, clear and copious!
Thirst, obviously, is a major clue. So, too, are muscle cramps. As you lose electrolytes, your muscles get hotter and begin to lock up. Studies show sports drinks with electrolytes are better than plain water at replenishing your system and warding off cramps.
You skin may be flushed and you can feel both feverish and chilly, sweating profusely while your skin is cool to the touch. Apply cold, wet cloths and seek medical help. You may already be in shock.
Use two fingers to pinch up some skin on the back of your hand. When you release it, your skin should spring back to normal. If it doesn’t, you may be dehydrated.
Another sign is a craving for sweets. Your organs need water to function, and your liver needs it to release stored glucose into your bloodstream as fuel.
Something else to consider: Older people are at a higher risk of dehydration in part because of their medicines, especially diuretics. They also could have a diminished sense of thirst or have trouble getting themselves enough to drink. This can lead to confusion, low blood pressure and other problems.
Remember, staying hydrated it a lifelong commitment. So, drink up!