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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
Medical news

Watch for signs of dehydration on hot summer days


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Whether you're exercising, gardening, playing or just basking up the sun's warm rays, there are some hazards that can put a damper on any summer day. Among those is dehydration.

Andria Coleman, a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition monitor for Forest Hills (N.Y.) Hospital, says people are unaware of how often to replace fluids and how quickly the body can become dehydrated.

"If you are working outside in the sun - working out or doing physical activity -there are the elements that work against you," Coleman says. Not only is your body working to cool itself down, she says, but doing that work exerts energy that heats it back up. It's a double-edged sword.

If you're spending an extended period of time outside, there are a few signs and symptoms of dehydration that you should be mindful of: sweating profusely, getting really tired and becoming disoriented, becoming lightheaded or getting a headache. "You definitely get the sensation that you've become parched - your throat gets dry, your mouth gets dry - things like that," she says.

Fortunately, there are some sweet and easy tools to combat dehydration. "Of course fluid is going to be your first choice, but you can also consume foods that have high fluid contents," Coleman says. On the list: watermelon, strawberries, pineapples, apples and other fruits that have a high water content.

While dehydration is often easily remedied, when left untreated, it may lead to serious health complications.

"There are some conditions where you can become severely dehydrated and that has to do with heat stroke, and you can become very sick," Coleman says.

Other dehydration related conditions (in serious cases) include seizures, swelling of the brain, shock, kidney failure and even death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While the recommendation is to drink six to eight glasses of water per day, Coleman says to be mindful of activity levels and to hydrate the body accordingly.

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