As temperatures continue to soar this summer, we may enjoy spending time outdoors at picnics, sporting events or the pool, but it is important for us to remember that the heat increases our risk of dehydration.
Every day, we are constantly losing water. We lose water every time we breathe, sweat, or go to the bathroom. Dehydration occurs when we lose more water than we consume.
Our sense of thirst decreases as we age and we don’t feel the urge to drink as often as younger people do, the Environmental Protection Agency explains, so older adults have a higher risk of dehydration. Some medications increase the risk of dehydration, and individuals with disabilities, infections and illnesses, or those recovering from surgery also have an increased risk. Prolonged exposure to heat and excessive exercise are other common causes of dehydration.
It is important to know the symptoms of dehydration, especially during these hot months. Symptoms include increased thirst, dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, a rapid pulse, confusion, headache, sluggishness, fainting, the inability to stand or walk, the inability to sweat, and infrequent or dark urine. It is important to pay attention to signs of dehydration, as severe dehydration can lead to death. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to contact your healthcare provider.
To prevent dehydration this summer, follow these tips from WebMD (www.webmd.com)
• Avoid exercise and outdoor work on days with a high heat index, or exercise and work in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
• Ensure that older adults, children, and those with illnesses or disabilities drink plenty of water.
• Plan ahead and take extra water to outdoor events
• Avoid drinking alcohol
• Wear light colored, loose-fitting clothing
• Take breaks from the heat in the air-conditioning or shade
So how much water do we actually need? WebMD says that everyone is different, but that we should drink enough that we need to go to the bathroom every two hours, and urine is light colored. When you exercise you need to drink more water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Other liquids such as juice, soda and coffee, and foods, especially fruits and vegetables, help to hydrate us, but water is always the best bet.
We can all enjoy the warm weather outdoors, but it’s important to take precautions. For information about how Liberty at Home can help keep you or your loved ones safe this summer call Dana O’Donnell at 215-643-6335 ext. 147.