Remember to stay hydrated in warm weatherDr. Veita Bland / May 23, 2019
Believe it or not, the calendar says we have made our way back to the warm days of spring and summer. This is a favorite times of the year for many people, but it often requires a few extra safe guards as we return to significantly warmer days and nights.
One of the most important hot weather factors, and you may have heard, is making sure that you are hydrated. Most people do not maintain good hydration. In the summer months, when it becomes even more important, that number goes up and there are those who may get into a little trouble and become dehydrated. This is particularly surprising when you note that there is a plethora of water containing devices available for people to stylishly carry.
The body needs adequate fluid to run its metabolic processes properly. We sometimes do not realize we need additional fluids. Oftentimes we do not feel that we are thirsty. It’s recommended that we should drink eight glasses of eight ounces of fluids daily. Depending on your size and activity, that recommendation may or may not apply to you.
If you are very active, exercising and sweating quite a lot, then eight glasses of fluids most likely will not be enough. You really need to look at your body. Is your urine concentrated (yellow) in its appearance? If so, you need to drink more water.
For elderly people, the thirst mechanism may not adequately let them know they need fluids. Make sure they are drinking fluids. You may need to speak to their healthcare provider to make sure you have an idea of the amount of fluids they may need.
I have seen older people fail to drink enough fluids due to their mobility issues such as difficulty getting up and walking. It is also important to consider the types of medications seniors may be taking. If an individual is on a diuretic or other heart medications, speak with their healthcare provider. Also, make sure they have adequate cooling of their environment. Heat stroke is real and quite dangerous.
A person’s need for fluids is not static. It depends on one’s activities, the temperature of the environment, previous hydration status, whether a person is ill or not, one’s medications and even the hydration properties of the fluids he/she drinks.
Alcohol is not one of the great hydrators. Be careful with drinks that contain caffeine such as colas, coffees, some teas and other brown drinks. The caffeine acts as a diuretic and will result in a diuresis of fluids. This may result in a net loss in fluids. Watch sweetened drinks too. Power drinks that are touted to replace your electrolytes may work for some and not for others. Drinking good old water, the gold standard, is the best. You do not need fancy, expensive water that is pH balanced or fizzes as your body knows what to do with water.
One of my greatest concerns, in addition to making sure older people are hydrated, is to make sure children are hydrated too. Youngsters cannot always tell you they are thirsty so offer water to them regularly. If children receive all the playtime they should be getting, they should be good and sweaty and will eagerly drink down water.
Make sure if you are on any type of medication that you know whether it affects your hydration status. Stay hydrated and enjoy these warm weather months.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.