Time for a water break

The importance of staying hydrated this summer

The scorching heat of summer 2012 made it among the hottest on record in communities across the nation, including the Louisville area, and chances are good this summer will be just as hot. Anne Fogle, M.D., family medicine, stresses the importance of staying hydrated during the summer and year round.

“We should be aware of good hydration throughout the year, but especially during the summer months when extreme temperatures make us more prone to dehydration,” Dr. Fogle said.

Age plays a role in how much daily fluid intake is needed to stay hydrated. Dr. Fogle suggests the following guidelines (1 cup = 8 ounces):

  • Children ages 4 to 13: 5 to 8 cups
  • Teenage boys and adult men: 13 cups
  • Teenage girls and adult women: 9 cups

Active people should be especially aware of their hydration level in order to avoid dehydration and other heat-related complications.

“You should drink 2 to 3 cups of water two hours prior to exercise and 1 to 2 cups every 20 minutes during exercise,” Dr. Fogle said. She also recommends the use of sports drinks during activities lasting longer than an hour to replace fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates, which provide energy for muscles.

Don’t be overwhelmed by these seemingly high recommendations. Most people take in at least 20 percent of needed liquids through food. According to Dr. Fogle, our summer diets are usually made up of foods that have a higher water concentration, such as tomatoes and watermelon, which contain at least 90 percent water by volume.

She also stresses that fluids in general matter, so don’t feel constrained to drinking just water.

Stay ahead of the hydration game

Recognizing the signs of dehydration can keep you safe in the heat. While thirst is an obvious sign of dehydration, Dr. Fogle advises that by the time you get thirsty, you are already behind the game.

Mild to moderate signs of dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased urination
  • Tired feeling
  • Muscle cramps
Signs of extreme dehydration:

  • Extreme thirst
  • No urination
  • Confusion

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience signs of extreme dehydration.


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