It’s hard to believe but it’s already the Fourth of July holiday week! Many of us probably have plans to head to the beach, watch the parade or fireworks, visit Cedar Point, or run the Mapletree Road Race. With these busy holiday schedules and the weather getting hotter, it’s important to stay hydrated so you can continue to enjoy your fun summer plans.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is when you are losing more fluid than you are taking in. This leaves your body without enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Dehydration is especially dangerous in young children and older adults.
Dehydration can be caused several factors including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, excessive sweating, and increased urination. It can also be caused by simple things such as forgetting to drink water when in the heat or when busy and lacking access to water when traveling, hiking, or camping.
You may think that thirst would be the best indication of dehydration but sometimes the feeling of thirst doesn’t set in until you’re already dehydrated. Other symptoms of dehydration vary by age:
Infants and young children:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Crying without tears
- No wet diapers for three hours
- Sunken eyes and/or cheeks
- Lethargy or irritability
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
If you or a loved one have had diarrhea for 24 hours or more, are irritable or disoriented, are sleepier or less active than usual, can’t keep down fluids, or have bloody or black stool, it’s time to call the doctor because you could be significantly dehydrated and require immediate medical treatment.
As you plan your holiday week, plan to prevent dehydration as well. Here are some tips so you can prepare to have a fun week in the sun!
- Drink plenty of fluids. You should have between 6 and 8 cups of fluids a day and even more when it’s hot. When you’re out in the sun, you will sweat more and lose fluid quicker. Pack refillable bottles of water and have a plan to drink and refill them throughout the day. Encourage the kids to drink water as well as they may not think to do it themselves. Replace electrolytes. When you lose fluids, you also lose electrolytes. You can replace these with sports drinks, Pedialyte, and foods such as meats, vegetables, and fruits.
- Don’t skip meals. A lot of your fluids come from your food so although it may be tempting to skip lunch while you’re out and about, make a plan to stop and have your three meals.
- Schedule outdoor activities for the cool parts of the day. Try to stay inside in the heat of the day around lunchtime/early afternoon. This could be a good time to rest in the air conditioning and let the little ones take their naps.
- Dress in light, cool clothing. Dark colors absorb the sunlight and will make you feel hotter and sweat more. Be sure to check the forecast and dress yourself and the kids appropriately based on the temperatures and how much sun will be out. If you’re worried about it cooling down around dusk when it’s time for the fireworks, pack blankets or sweatshirts everyone can use when that time comes.
- Avoid alcoholic or high-protein drinks. Both of these can dehydrate you. If you drink alcohol, be sure to drink more water than you normally would to compensate.
Hayley Corso, ATC, PTA is an Athletic Trainer at Fisher-Titus. She has been with Fisher-Titus since 2016. For more information about Athletic Training at Fisher-Titus, visit www.fishertitus.org/athletic-training.