Hydration 101

It’s that time of year where the mercury rarely dips lower than 70 degrees and relief from the heat and humidity is rare, even in the evening hours.

It’s summer in Nebraska.

While it’s tempting to just stay indoors and enjoy the A/C, the summer time is about being outdoors. Whether you’re participating in a sport, spectating or just soaking up the rays, it’s important to stay safe when out in the heat and sun to avoid heat illness.

Athletes frequently come to mind anytime we think heat illness but all too often spectators are overlooked and are just as susceptible. Athletes have hydration principles ingrained in their heads season after season but spectating parents, family and friends rarely consider their own hydration status. It’s important for spectators and those enjoying outdoor activities to follow the same heat protection principles as athletes:

Sunscreen

While it’s tempting to get your summer bronze on, it’s important to wear an effective SPF (at least 30) sunscreen for your time spent outside and just as important to re-apply correctly based on activities and time outdoors.

Hydration

“8 cups of water a day” is an easy one to remember but doesn’t always meet the needs. Mayo Clinic reports men can need as much as 13+ cups of water per day while women can need 9+. Many studies vary as every person is different in their body composition and level of dehydrating activities. It’s important to listen to your body, if you are feeling sluggish and are frequently hungry, even after eating, try drinking more fluids.

Water is also not your only choice when hydrating, any fluids like tea, coffee, soda and other beverages can count toward your fluid intake. It’s important to note that a lot of these contain caffeine which can lead to increased urination and loss of fluids as well as contain extra unnecessary calories for the less active individual. Water is cheap and calorie-free, but if you cringe at the thought of having to down that much water in a day, going with a low-calorie drink or even using a liquid water enhancer can make things a bit easier.

Nutrition

All your fluids don’t have to come in liquid form. Water-dense foods like spinach and watermelon are great ways to increase fluid intake on top of the vitamins and fiber they have to offer. Bananas offer potassium, an important electrolyte for body function and if you are a habitual eater of more processed foods, you are most likely getting a good dose of sodium in your diet. Before changing up your dietary habits it’s important to talk with your physician, especially if you are under supervision for high blood pressure or diabetes.

Know the Signs

There are a few simple tell-tale signs of dehydration. Keep track of how you feel. If you notice a decrease in performance at work, feelings of fatigue, irritability or headaches, you could be dehydrated. Another sign to keep an eye on is thirst. A well-hydrated body shouldn’t be thirsty. Finally, urine color is another great indicator of hydration, the darker the urine, the less hydrated you are. Though keep in mind, if you take a multivitamin or certain medications, they can also discolor your urine.

So remember, just because you aren’t out on the field during these steamy summer months, it’s still vital you keep yourself as well as your family well protected and hydrated during the summer heat.

If you're dehydrated, consider visiting our Emergency Room at 144th and Center.

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