Tips for a Healthy Summer

Prevent Dehydration: Getting enough water keeps us healthy and becomes even more important during hot weather or when we’re ill.

As the rest of the country suffers through record-breaking heat, it’s easy to ignore the dangers of dehydration in our own perfect summer! But even a few degrees’ increase can deplete our bodies of critical fluids and add to already existing medical problems, especially for the very young and the very old. Getting enough water keeps us healthy and becomes even more important during hot weather or when we’re ill.

WhidbeyHealth paramedics and EMTs transport patients who present with dehydration, which can present as weakness, confusion, and dizziness. Often, these patients do not believe they are dehydrated, because they don’t feel sweaty or hot.

“Drinking water can prevent dehydration,” says Dr. Brenden Hansen, Medical Director of WhidbeyHealth Emergency Department.

“Dehydration can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, temperature regulation issues, constipation and kidney stones.” Electrolyte imbalances stemming from fluid losses can lead to involuntary muscle contractions, leg cramps, or falls.

Many medications can contribute to dehydration, including blood pressure medications or antidepressants. Often the elderly limit their fluid intake to avoid trips to the bathroom.

How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? Some things to watch out for:

  • Dark urine or constipation.
  • Headaches or dizziness when standing.
  • Skin that appears dry and stays compressed when pinched.

To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water content such as fruits. Let thirst be your guide. Recommended amounts of water for women is 12 cups. For men, it’s higher, at 15 cups.

But if you don’t like the taste of water, add a small amount of fruit juice or frozen to give some flavor, but avoid a lot of added sugar, which will only make you thirstier. Drink unsweetened tea, or increase water with meals. Fruits with a high water content help too. Although it’s tempting to reach for a cold one, limit the alcohol, because it will only increase dehydration.