Summer is almost here and it will be hot!  As we get older, we have to pay attention to fluid loss (better known as dehydration), particularly in the heat. While it makes sense to be aware of this in warm weather, dehydration can happen at any time of the year.

What causes dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the body loses or uses more fluid than it takes in. When your body doesn’t get enough water and other fluids, it loses the ability to carry out normal functions. If you fail to replace lost fluids, you will become dehydrated. You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Rapid breathing or heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Sunken eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Extreme thirst
  • Inability to sweat
  • Decreased urine output

 Urine color can indicate dehydration. If it is concentrated and dark yellow, you may be dehydrated.

If you think you are dehydrated…

 Try to take in fluids:

  • Sip small amounts of water
  • Drink carbohydrate/electrolyte-containing drinks (Gatorade or prepared replacement solutions like Pedialyte)
  • Suck on popsicles made from juices and sports drinks
  • Suck on ice chips

Try to cool down if there has been heat exposure, or if temperature is elevated:

  • Remove any excess clothing or loosen clothing
  • Seek air-conditioned areas, fans, or shade
  • Apply a cool, wet towel to body
  • Use a spray bottle to spray water on exposed skin surfaces

Avoid exposing skin to excessive cold, such as ice packs or ice water.

Dehydration can be serious, so do your best to avoid it.  Here are some tips for increasing fluid intake:

  • Always carry a water bottle. You’re more likely to sip throughout the day.
  • If you don’t like drinking plain water, add some lemon or lime slices, or try a flavored seltzer.
  • Try herbal teas (hot or iced), low sodium broths, and soups (hot or cold).
  • Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day as they typically have a high water content.
  • Put your fluid intake on a schedule: drink upon waking up, and at set times, such as with meals.