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Staying Hydrated in Florida in the Summer


We are all aware that it’s hot in Florida. The high summer temperatures of Florida brings lots of hazards with it. Being aware and taking appropriate precautions will prevent serious health issues, and help you enjoy the summer in a carefree manner.


Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. When the temperatures rise, getting enough to drink is very important whether you’re playing sports, traveling, or just sitting in the sun. Being exposed to the sun or humidity even if you aren’t exercising can cause your body to need more fluids.


Dehydration

Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet and headaches to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.


The human body is composed of more than 50% water, which plays an integral role in many bodily functions necessary to sustain life. Adequate water is vital for digestion and organ function.


One of the most serious hazards of summer is dehydration, where the body can lose water at an alarming and dangerous rate. Dehydration causes heat exhaustion and other serious heat-related illnesses. In addition, dehydration can wreak havoc on your electrolytes, causing dangerously low levels of sodium and potassium in your body.


The first thing to ensure during summer is pre-hydrating our bodies, drinking and rehydrating adequately before, during and after any activity.


Water is Critical for Your Heart Health

A well-hydrated body keeps the heart pumping blood through the blood vessels to the muscles more easily. And it helps the muscles work efficiently and ensures the heart doesn’t have to work so hard.


People who have a heart condition, are older than 50 or overweight may also have to take extra precautions when dealing with the summer heat.


Symptoms of Dehydration

If you have become thirsty your body has already lost 1-2% of its fluids, about 1-2 liters of body water.


Here are some signs of dehydration to be aware of: 

·      Fatigue

·      Loss of appetite

·      Flushed skin

·      Chills

·      Heat intolerance

·      Light-headedness

·      Dark colored urine

·      Dry cough

·      Headaches

·      Muscle cramping

·      Tingling in extremities

·      Inability to sweat


Emergency medical attention should be given to those suffering from the more severe symptoms.


How Much Water Do You Need?

The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing, activity, and duration.


With the high humidity, heat and sun exposure, water loss through sweat/evaporation is much higher for hikers in Florida.


Given the typical suggestion of drinking ½ liter of water per hour hiking, those in Florida should consider drinking more water during particularly hot days – 1 liter of water or more for every hour you will be outdoors. It’s better to have too much water than not enough.


Dehydration risk is a real threat to hikers in Florida and shouldn’t be taken lightly!

Those who perspire heavily need more fluids. Medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease require more water. Cystic fibrosis sufferers have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and need to avoid dehydration. Some medications act as diuretics, causing more fluid loss.


Thirst alone is not an accurate symptom; the color of your urine is. Pale and clear signals adequate hydration. The darker it is, the higher the level of dehydration.

Inability to sweat while engaged in vigorous physical activity can be a red flag, pointing to dehydration, to the point of imminent heat exhaustion.


Water is the best way to stay hydrated, since it is sugar and calorie-free. Other sources of water also include water-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelons, cucumbers, and strawberries.

 

Preventing Dehydration this Summer

Dehydration can become a serious problem. Staying hydrated and drinking enough water is vital for digestion and organ functions. The following steps should help:


Exercising: hot, humid conditions can dehydrate a person in 30 to 60 minutes.  Outdoor activities should be done during the cooler parts of the day, before 10 am or after 4 pm. Sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 should be used. Stay out of the sun and wear a hat and sunglasses.


Hydration: thirst indicates dehydration. Hydrate yourself before, during and after any activity.


Salt: salty snacks help rehydration during lengthy or intensive workouts. If you lose 2 to 5 percent of your body weight, take a salt replacement. With moderate exercise, under one-hour, normal salt intake with food is sufficient.


Water: over-drinking water during a workout can cause symptoms ranging from nausea to coma.


Acclimating: newcomers not used to the sweltering Florida sun, should limit their sun exposure and activity, and get their bodies adjusted slowly over the course of two weeks. Get used to sweating, then cooling down, and practice hydration a lot.

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