Beat the heat by staying hydrated this summer

One UAB expert provides tips on how you can stay hydrated this summer during The World Games.

Beat the heat streamOne UAB expert provides tips on how you can stay hydrated this summer during The World Games. Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Despite this fact, more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drinking enough fluids is one of the most important things people can do to prevent heat-related illness. Dehydration occurs when one loses more fluid from the body than they take in. When this happens, the body does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal function, and if these fluids are not replaced, dehydration occurs. As a result, dehydration can cause changes in electrolytes, which can affect many systems and organs of the body, including the heart, brain and kidneys.

Some mild symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, confusion, fatigue, increased thirst, dry mouth, headache, constipation and decreased urinary input. Severe symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing and fainting.

“Dehydration can result from loss of water and sodium from the gastrointestinal tract due to vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding,” said Ksenia Blinnikova, M.D., an assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Family and Community Medicine and a physician at UAB Family and Community Medicine. “It can also be caused by loss of water and sodium in the kidneys or in the skin due to sweating, sunburns and some medical conditions.”

Blinnikova says it is important for those planning to stay in the heat for an extended period of time to carry a bottle of water with them everywhere they go and limit their consumption of caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea and sodas, as these can cause one to lose more body fluids.

“An easy rule of thumb is to drink 1 milliliter of fluids for every calorie consumed,” Blinnikova said. “In other words, if you eat 2,000 calories per day, then you should drink 2,000 milliliters of fluids per day, which equals about 68 ounces. To help you determine the exact amount you should be drinking a day, I recommend talking with your primary care provider.”

Find more tips on how to stay safe this summer here.

For those who do not enjoy drinking plain water, Blinnikova says drinking flavored water, water with flavoring additives and sparkling water are also a way to stay hydrated. She stresses the importance of staying away from caffeinated beverages and beverages with added sugar to help prevent becoming dehydrated.

In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, Blinnikova recommends eating water-rich foods that are full of nutrients. Some recommendations she has include oranges, grapefruits, melons, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce.

“When you are out in the heat for long periods of time, staying hydrated matters more than ever,” Blinnikova said. “By consuming enough water and hydrating foods, you can meet your body’s hydration needs and stay healthy and active all summer long.”