For those living in Texas and Oklahoma, summer 2011 heat is like nothing that they have ever experienced in recent years. It is draining, exhausting and unbearable from morning till night and in some part of these states night heat is worse. Heat will lead to dehydration – a condition that occurs when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, goes above the amount that is taken in. With dehydration, more water is released out of our bodies than the amount of water we take in through drinking.
Dehydration is caused by heat exposure, too much exercise or decreased water intake.
Under intense heat, you lose water in the form of water mist in the breath and as water in sweat, urine and stool. Along with the water you are losing, small amounts of salts are also lost.
As the heat bears on and you lose too much water, you body may become out of balance or dehydrated . If you do not replace the lost water soon, you may go into severe dehydration that can lead to coma or death.
Conditions that may lead to dehydration:
- Heat exposure, and too much exercise.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination.
- The inability to seek appropriate water and food.
- No access to safe drinking water
The signs and symptoms that tells you are in dehydration may range from minor to severe:
- The increased thirst, dry mouth and sticky tongue.
- Light head, weakness and dizziness. When this start to occur the heart jumps and pounds .
- Confusion, sluggishness and fainting, this occurs when the body is unable to sweat.
- Urine output become less and the color changes from yellow to tea color.
The following ways is how to take fluids if you are dehydrated:
- Sip small amounts of water and suck on ice chips.
- Drink carbohydrate/electrolyte-containing drinks like sports drinks such as Gatorade.
- Suck on popsicles made from juices and sports drinks.
- Remove any excess clothing and loosen other clothing .
- Air-conditioned areas are best for helping return body temperatures to normal.
- If air conditioning is not available, increase cooling by sitting near fans or in the shade.
- If outside place a wet towel around you.
- If available jump into a pool!
“Prevention is better that care.” The best treatment for dehydration is prevention. Anticipate the need for increase fluid intake and plan ahead and take extra water to outdoors and events.
- Avoid exercise and exposure during high heat index days and high heat stress days.
- Avoid alcohol consumption, especially when it is very hot, because alcohol increases water loss.
- Wear light-colored and loosing fitting clothing and carry a personal fan!
- Find air-conditioned or shady areas to cool off between exposures to hot temperatures.