Now that spring has sprung and summer is nearly upon us, most of us will spend more time outside enjoying the great weather and the warmth of summer’s sun. With sun and higher temperatures comes sweat, more sweat, and profuse sweating—our body’s way of regulating our internal heat levels. This is precisely when we need to take care to keep our bodies properly hydrated.
If proper hydration isn’t something you normally think about, consider this story. Feeling the effects of dehydration could happen at any point during the summer.
It was a gorgeous June day—85 degrees, sunshine, and not a cloud in the sky. My son’s U12 soccer team was competing in a day-long tournament. I was the coach. The team parents had brought plenty of fuel to keep the boys fed and hydrated: lots of fruit, many coolers of water and ice, and plenty of healthy snacks. Eight hours after the tournament started, with only seconds left in the game, our team scored the only goal of the final game to nab the annual championship. The boys were tired but ecstatic, and their parents were equally elated. Myself, the coach, shared in their joy—I was dizzy with excitement. And that’s the problem: I was actually dizzy, my head ached, and I felt horrible. Despite the many bottles of water I drank during the championship game, I wasn’t sweating.
I was dehydrated—to the point of heat exhaustion. While so concerned that the boys on the team kept well-hydrated throughout the day, I had neglected to take care of myself.
Dehydration occurs when we expend more fluid from our bodies than we take in. We’ve all experienced what happens when we are active doing exercises, running, riding bikes or playing sports: we sweat and we need to drink water to keep our bodies properly hydrated. But you can become dehydrated even if you aren’t physically exerting yourself—especially in hot weather.
There are number of things that can cause dehydration:
- a fever (especially 103 degrees or higher)
- excessive heat exposure
- vomiting or diarrhea due to illness
In cases of high fevers or vomiting/diarrhea, people are rarely active, and your doctor will usually treat your symptoms and urge you to keep well-hydrated with water and natural juices.
When illness is not at issue and you’re a reasonably healthy person, it’s excessive heat and exercise that can cause dehydration. Runners, bikers and sportsmen and women are particularly susceptible and should be aware of the classic signs of dehydration:
- excessive thirst
- dizziness or lightheadedness (especially when standing up quickly)
- dry mouth or swollen tongue
- extreme sluggishness
- heart palpitations
- lack of sweat
That last sign—not sweating—is a sure sign of dehydration on a hot day, especially if you’re involved in any kind of physical activity. Sweating is the way the body regulates its internal temperature. If you’re dehydrated, your body cannot afford to let any fluid leave the system, so you don’t sweat. So if you’ve been active on a hot day and you stop sweating, that’s your body letting you know it’s not getting enough water to keep running smoothly.
Should you experience any of the classic signs of dehydration, there are some easy ways to remedy the situation:
- sip small amounts of water over an extended period of time
- suck on ice chips
- sip electrolyte-rich drinks (such as sports drinks—though avoid high sugar content)
- eat natural juice popsicles
- wear light clothing
- rest in an air-conditioned area or sit in front of a fan
- if outside, rest in a shaded area away from the sun
- mist your face and skin
The key to remaining properly hydrated is making sure your body has enough water to do what it needs to do to maintain all of its essential functions. Be confident that the water you and your family are relying on for proper hydration is the best it can be by contacting your local Culligan Man. He can perform a water test for the water that comes into your home. He can then recommend the best water treatment system, such as the Culligan Aqua-Cleer® Advanced Drinking Water System or bottled water delivery service, for you and your family to stay hydrated all summer long.
Enjoy the too few days of glorious summer—but remember to keep that essential water flowing into your precious body.