My family and I recently moved to Arizona and I am worried about dehydration and heat exhaustion. Any tips to avoid these?
Summer time in Arizona means Mother Nature is cranking up the heat once again. Along with those soaring temperatures, heat-related illnesses can be a very real and serious health risk for those who are unprepared or vulnerable. Taking some basic preventative steps and gaining an awareness of the signs and symptoms of dehydration can be life saving for you or a loved one.
You probably already know that water is good for you, but you may not really know why. …Water is considered an essential nutrient and may be the most important one when it comes to your health. Water is essential because there is no other fluid that can adequately take its place in your body – you cannot synthesize it on your own, and without it, serious life-threatening conditions can quickly arise. Unlike camels, you really have no way to store water so it must be consumed on a daily basis and in quantities that address your body’s needs. It is important to remember that just as with food, your water requirements are going to be individualized and based upon several factors to include your age, physical size, activity level, physical environment and overall health status. The “8 glasses of water a day” suggestion is a good place to start but be sure to adjust your water intake to match your lifestyle demands.
The process of dehydration can be subtle at first and then becomes more severe over time. Early symptom recognition is important as dehydration and heat exhaustion tend to be most common for small children and the elderly, but anyone can become dehydrated. Here are some common causes of dehydration seen in my office:
- excessive sweating caused from fevers, exercise, or working outdoors
- vomiting and/or diarrhea caused from illnesses like the flu, food poisoning, irritable bowel syndrome or colitis.
- excessive urination caused from undiagnosed diabetes or diuretic medications often used to treat high blood pressure
Recognizing the symptoms of dehydration is key to proper and early intervention. Avoidance of dehydration is even better. Thirst can be a great indicator of early dehydration, but not always reliable if you are chronically dehydrated and, remember, your thirst drive diminishes as you age. Therefore, I do not recommend waiting until you are thirsty to drink water as this may leave you less than optimally hydrated much of the time. A better way of determining if you are getting enough water is by monitoring your urine color and output. If your urine is dark yellow or if you are urinating infrequently or just scant amounts, you probably should increase your water intake. You may also need to drink more if you are exercising, working outdoors in elevated temperatures, or if you are ill. On the other hand, if you begin to urinate too frequently or your urine color looks pale to clear, you may be drinking too much water. Also, be sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds that are loaded with minerals. This ensures that the water you are drinking gets absorbed and transported to those cells, organs and tissues that need it.
Drinking water is essential to your health. I encourage you to create a habit of drinking water as a way to ensure you stay hydrated and experience the highest quality of life. If you are an avid consumer of water, I commend you- keep up the good work! If not, today is a great day to start.
The information contained in this article is for information and education purposes only and is not medical advice. Do not use this information as an alternative to obtaining medical advice from your physician or other professional healthcare provider. Always consult with your physician or other professional healthcare provider about any medical conditions you are experiencing. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, contact your local emergency services for help.