Preparing for a heatwave? Hydrate.

The years 2019 and 2020 have been two of the world’s hottest, and all signs point to a continuation of this trend.  In fact, in the year 2020, every month except December was recorded to be the top four warmest of that month. 

Heatwaves bring many challenges, but one that is often overlooked is dehydration. In this blog, we will go over the signs and symptoms of dehydration, how to prevent it, and how to stay hydrated in the first place.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

On a daily basis, your body uses fluids to do day-to-day tasks such as exercising, sweating, and going to the bathroom. Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough fluids to replace the fluids you use. 

When you are dehydrated, you may experience an increase in thirst, have dark yellow and strong-smelling pee, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or have dry mouth, lips, and eyes. It is important that you recognize these symptoms of dehydration and rehydrate yourself with a full glass of water. If it’s difficult for you to drink, take small sips at a time.   

Note that dehydration impacts older adults more due to the fact that older adults have less water storage.

Foods and drinks to avoid

Hot temperatures can cause dehydration, but there are foods and drinks that you might not be aware of that may contribute to dehydration as well. 

Two of the biggest culprits in this arena are actually sodium and sugar. For instance, the following foods can pull water from your cells or make you pee more often: potato chips, fast foods, deli meats and condiments, soy sauce, asparagus, soda, fruit juice, coffee, detox tea, energy drinks, and alcohol. When you urinate often, the volume of fluids you are excreting can significantly add up and cause dehydration.


Medications that contribute to dehydration

Certain medications also contribute to dehydration. Diuretics or “water pills” is a medication class that is commonly used in patients with high blood pressure. A diuretic pulls water from your body and urges you to urinate. Examples of diuretics include: hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, furosemide, torsemide, bumetanide, spironolactone, eplerenone, and triamterene. Other medications that contribute to dehydration are laxatives, Excedrin, apremilast, lithium, and chemotherapy.

Tips to prevent dehydration and stay hydrated

Everyone should drink water throughout the day. The average male should consume about 3.7 liters of water a day and the average female should consume about 2.7 liters a day. Because water bottles are typically 0.5 liters, the average male drinks about 7 bottles and women about 5 bottles of water a day. 

It’s not uncommon to forget to drink water throughout the day, so here are two easy tips to increase your daily water intake:

  1. Be aware of how much water you are expelling. If you exercise regularly, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the workout. 
  2. Instead of eating salty snacks and sugary drinks, snack on fruits with high water content. On a hot summer day, slice yourself some juicy watermelon or bite into a refreshing strawberry or cantaloupe. Watermelon contains a lot of water with only 46 calories in one cup of serving. Cucumber and tomatoes are also great sources of water.

No matter what method you use, at the end of the day, it’s just important to find one that works for you so that you can stay hydrated. 

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