Hot sunny days spent on the beach are bliss but can cause you to lose vital fluid from your body which can become a health emergency. The article below, explains how to prevent dehydration and keep yourself healthy while still having fun on those sunny days.

Dehydration (or hypohydration) occurs when your body loses too much fluid. As a result, your body doesn’t have as much water and electrolytes which interfere with normal body processes. Your body loses fluids normally across the day in urine, sweat, feces, and by breathing (called respiratory water loss). The food and drink you consume help keep you hydrated and maintain your body’s fluid balance. However, there are certain situations that can put you at risk of dehydration and severe dehydration can become life-threatening. It is most dangerous for babies, small children, and older adults.

Dehydration can occur if:

  • You have been in the sun too long.
  • You are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • You sweated a lot while exercising.
  • You suffer from a condition that means you have excessive urine output such as diabetes, or you are talking diuretic medications.
  • You drank too much alcohol.
  • You have a high temperature of 38C or above.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Feeling thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Thirst can signal a water loss of 1% of body weight.
  • Dry mouth, lips and eyes.
  • Dark yellow, strong smelling urine. Your urine becomes concentrated as you pee less which is your body trying to keep as much fluid inside as possible.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Feeling tired.

 

How to Prevent Dehydration

Water

All living things need water and you’re no different! Make sure you drink water throughout the day. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty.  Use the color of your urine as a guide — the paler the better. Avoid too much tea and coffee as caffeine is a diuretic (makes you pee).

During Hot Weather

  • Drink plenty of fluids – water and natural juice without added sugar. Juice provides hydration and nutrients. Avoid caffeine drinks and alcohol. These increase dehydration.
  • Hot summer days often mean we are on the beach or at barbeques. Iced cold cocktails and cool beers, nice as they are, should be kept to a minimum, and make sure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body.
  • Many fruits and vegetables have a high-water content. Eat salads, watermelons, cucumbers, berries, and grapes. Apples contain up to 85% of water by volume.
  • Where possible, stay in cool, shaded areas and avoid peak hours of sunlight when the temperatures and UV rays are at their highest, usually between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wear light-colored, loose clothes. Dark clothing absorbs more heat while tight clothes don’t let sweat (your body’s way of regulating your temperature) evaporate.
  • Put wet towels over your body, take cool showers, or use a water mist on your skin to keep you cool.

When Exercising

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise. This is very important when the weather is hot, and when you do intense exercise. Take a container of water or sports/rehydration drinks with you when you exercise.
  • Before exercise, at least four hours before your start, drink one cup of water.
  • During exercise, drink 120 – 150 ml (4 – 5 ounces) of water every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • After exercise, drink enough water to double the amount of water your body has lost during exercise.
  • Don’t take salt tablets.

Illness

  • If you have a fever, diarrhoea, or vomiting, you are at risk of losing too much fluid, salts and minerals. You need to replace what your body has lost. Oral rehydration (sachets of powder you mix in water) is available from your local drug store.
  • Even if you feel ill, make sure you drink water. Even a few sips every 10-15 minutes will help replace lost fluid from your body. Try some soup or light broth.

 Anyone can become dehydrated as a result of hot weather, exercise or illness. You lose fluid every day just by going about your daily activities, breathing and other bodily functions. The amount of water you need depends on the environment, your activity level, and what other food and drink you have consumed. By aiming to drink 2-3 liters of water per day and following the advice above on how to prevent dehydration, you will maintain your body’s fluid balance and stay healthy.
If you think you are dehydrated, consult a doctor.