Updated: Jul 19
By: Betsy Stenard, Winthrop University Student
As the days get steadily hotter and more humid, it is increasingly important to remember to take care of ourselves when outside for long periods of time, especially when exercising. Emergency room cases of dehydration, heat stroke, and complications related to the kidneys all increase during the hot summer months, and older adults are at a higher risk.
We sweat throughout the day, hot or cold, whether we realize it or not. However, intense heat will cause us to sweat considerably more in order to keep our bodies cool. This leads to us losing large amounts of fluids and salt - the components of sweat. Regular water will help replenish these fluids and electrolytes help to replenish the salt in our bodies to keep our kidneys functioning properly. There are many electrolyte drinks on the market, some of the most popular being Gatorade and Powerade, however the market has expanded tremendously.
and lots more!
These drinks and drink mixes contain sugars and minerals like sodium and potassium in order to replenish our body’s electrolytes and prevent heat exhaustion or severe dehydration.
Knowing the signs of dehydration as it is coming on in early stages is important to be aware of, in order to prevent a more serious situation from developing. These signs include:
Feeling dizzy, lightheaded
Dry lips or eyes
General fatigue or tiredness
Flushed, red skin
Heat intolerance or chills
Being aware of how your body is feeling in the heat for an extended period of time is most important. Staying hydrated in the first place, finding shade to rest in, or going inside to the AC are easy, preventable measures to avoid putting your body in a state of heat stress, and possible danger.
Make sure to enjoy the nice summer weather, and remember to be safe as well!
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Chapman CL, Johnson BD, Parker MD, Hostler D, Pryor RR, Schlader Z. Kidney physiology and pathophysiology during heat stress and the modification by exercise, dehydration, heat acclimation and aging. Temperature. 2021;8(2):108-159. doi:10.1080/23328940.2020.1826841
Dehydration: Causes & symptoms. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9013-dehydration. Published February 16, 2021. Accessed June 14, 2022.
Rikkert MGMO, Melis RJF, Claassen JAHR. Heat waves and dehydration in the elderly. BMJ: British Medical Journal (Overseas & Retired Doctors Edition). 2009;339(7713):119-120. doi:10.1136/bmj.b2663
Wright KC. Electrolytes' role in optimal hydration. Today's Dietitian. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0421p28.shtml. Published April 2021. Accessed June 14, 2022.