The Hot and Cool Things About Summer

Summer’s here and that’s a good thing! We all look forward to saying “good-bye” to the cold and “hello” to the cozy warmth of summer. With all the good things about summer, there are some things that we need to be aware of, such as dehydration and heat rash.

Dehydration

Dehydration is a significant loss of fluid in your body. Some of the symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal.
  • Sunken eyes.

[Source: Mayo Clinic]

To prevent dehydration, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water throughout the day. I like to keep water by my side at home and in the car. But the question arises: how much water is “plenty”? According to Mayo Clinic:

“It’s a simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live... Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.” [1]

In the case of average, healthy adults living in moderate climates, Mayo Clinic offers these guidelines:

“The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.”

As far as day-to-day water drinking habits go for you and me, no single method fits everyone. Mayo Clinic offers a tip for managing water intake on a daily basis:

“Knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day... Everyone has heard the advice, ‘Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.’ That’s about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations. Although the ‘8 by 8’ rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it’s easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: ‘Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,’ because all fluids count toward the daily total.”

Always consult your Doctor on how much YOU should drink. Everyone’s body is different and the amount depends on your body’s ability to process fluids safely. [2]

Heat Rash

Another heat-related illness is heat rash. Heat rash or ”prickly heat” shows up on your skin and looks like little red pimples or blisters. Call your doctor for information and advice. Heat Cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all dangerous as well. To prevent all of the above, try to stay in cool places this summer, even in the air conditioning when necessary. Keep in touch with your doctor if the heat is causing discomfort or distress.

Take the time to enjoy the summer scenery; flowers, green grass, blue skies and the trees in full bloom. Because before you know it we will be back to the coats and the cold of winter.

References:
1.Sawka M, et al. Human water needs. Nutrition Reviews 2005;63:S30.

2.Valtzin H. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for 8 x 8? American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2002;283:R993

Photo credit:
By Klaus Ohlenschläger (http://www.blog.ohlenschlaeger.info) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons