Reviewed by: Amy Surdam, FNP, LTC
Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy activities in the sun. But whether playing sports, exercising or hiking in nature, it’s essential to take proper precautions to avoid dehydration.
Health providers often stress the importance of hydration for athletes since it can occur from excessive sweating and vigorous exercise. Hot temperatures often speed up the process and cause rapid water loss. Keep reading to learn dehydration causes, what to do if you’re dehydrated and prevention tips to help you enjoy the rest of your summer safely.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluids than it takes in. You can become dehydrated when your body does not replace lost fluids, resulting in a struggle in its ability to perform normal functions. Unsurprisingly, sweating can make you dehydrated, as can frequent urination.
Anyone can become dehydrated, though the condition is especially hazardous for children and older adults. Older adults experience a decline in total body fluid, meaning they have fewer water reserves for their bodies to use as they age. Some people might also have health conditions or take medications that increase their risk of dehydration.
The most common causes of dehydration include:
While reversing mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more water is possible, severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention.
The symptoms of dehydration can differ depending on age. The body will initially respond to dehydration by reducing urine output to conserve water. It will then send thirst signals to the brain and cause urine to appear dark yellow due to increased urea concentration.
Common symptoms of dehydration include:
Thirst isn’t always a reliable indicator of dehydration. Many people, especially older adults, won’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why drinking more water is essential when it’s hot outside or when you’re ill.
You’ll also want to keep in mind the symptoms of dehydration in young children, which can include sunken eyes or cheeks, listlessness and dry mouth and tongue.
In the final stages of dehydration, the body’s organs will receive less blood which can cause confusion and weakness. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to life-threatening conditions such as organ failure, coma, heatstroke, urinary and kidney problems and seizures. That’s why it’s essential to learn the danger signs of dehydration to know when to seek immediate medical attention:
You can go to urgent care for dehydration, where health care providers will rehydrate your body to prevent emergency health problems. If drinking water doesn’t help immediately or isn’t possible due to illness or injury, providers may administer an intravenous fluid (IV) to help you rehydrate.
Physicians often emphasize the hydration importance for athletes, especially when playing sports outdoors in the hot sun. When it’s hot and humid, your sweat won’t evaporate and cool you as quickly as it usually does, causing increased body temperature and a need for more fluids.
To prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated from heat, it’s essential to follow a few of these tips before heading outside:
Staying hydrated in the summer can prevent dehydration and keep you comfortable outdoors. If you or a loved one shows signs of severe hydration, it’s essential to seek immediate medical treatment.
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