According to NASA, last month was the hottest in recorded history. Add kids starting sports this month, and it’s a “recipe for dehydration and heat stroke,” according to Dr. Freedman of Evolve Medical. In fact, Anne Arundel county has already had 2 heat-related deaths this summer.
What are the warning signs? What can you do to help your family? Take a moment to read and share this important health alert.
What are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
Mild dehydration can usually be treated at home but severe dehydration requires a visit to an urgent care or emergency room. It is very important to spot the mild symptoms before they become severe.
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Not urinating much
- Darker yellow urine
- Dry, cool skin
- Muscle cramps
- Few or no tears when crying
Signs of severe dehydration:
- Not urinating
- Very dark yellow/amber colored urine
- Dry, shriveled skin
- Skin that doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
- Irritability or confusion
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Rapid heartbeat and
- Lower blood pressure
- Breathing rapidly
- Sunken eyes
- Unconsciousness or delirium
Avoiding Heat Related Illness
The Anne Arundel County Department of Health advises the following to avoid heat-related illness:
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
- Wear sunglasses
- Wear wide-brimmed light hat
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
- Never leave children or pets in a car unattended — even with the windows open!
- Instead of large meals, eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Limit strenuous activities outdoors.
- Slow down
- Take frequent breaks
- Limit outdoor activities between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on days when poor air quality is announced. For up to date forecast: Air Quality Forecast
- Check frequently on the elderly and those in poor health. They may not be able to handle heat stress as well.
Prevent Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
The first sign of heat illness is often heat cramps. Heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness, occurs when the body temperature increases to 104 F or higher and requires immediate medical treatment. Here are some important tips:
- Although less serious than heat stroke, heat exhaustion should not be taken lightly. If someone has the signs of heat exhaustion — clammy skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst or altered ability to think, immediately take them to a cool place and provide water or a sports drink.
- If symptoms persist, seek medical attention at once.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the
high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.
- Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
- Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness.
- Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.
- Consider visiting a shopping mall or public library for a few hours.
- Visit a cooling center! For a complete list from AA Dept of Health is found here.
How to Stay Hydrated
- Drink water
- When exercising, drink 7 to 10 oz every 10 – 20 minutes.
- If you exercise for over an hour, replace electrolytes
- Sports drinks and coconut water
- Turn to fruit and veggies (see below)
- Weigh yourself
- Hop on the scale before and after exercise. For each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 ounces of fluid.
- Look at your urine!
- Checking the color of your urine can by easy and very helpful. When properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow.
- Dark yellow urine may indicate dehydration.
- Pinch yourself!
- Skin turgor, which is the skin’s ability to change shape and return to normal (or more simply put, it’s elasticity), is an easy way to check your hydration.
- Keep dry mouth at bay
- One of the first signs of dehydration is dry mouth.
- Stop if you feel dizzy
- Feeling lightheaded is a sign of impending more serious dehydration and is an indicator that it’s time to hydrate.
Foods that Help Keep You Hydrated
It’s summertime. Take advantage of the abundant and amazing fruit and vegetables Maryland has to offer!
- Watermelon (92% water)
- Cantaloupe (90% water)
- Cucumbers (Highest water content of any solid food (96.7%)
- Celery (95% water and only 6 calories)
- Bananas (Lots of dehydration-busting potassium)
- Tomatoes (95% water)
- Zucchini (95% water)
- Mixed green salad (Most leafy greens contain around 90-95% water).
If you have any questions or have been experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your primary care physician immediately. Evolve Medical is also happy to see you. Same day scheduling on-line here or call 844-322-4222. Or email them at [email protected]