Protect yourself from dehydration

Protect yourself from dehydration

WILMINGTON, NC (AP) - Thanks to nice weather, thousands of people packed the area beaches for Memorial Day weekend.

While we did not have oppressive temperatures, it is still easy to become dehydrated when spending time outside, and is one of the most common hazards of hot, humid weather.

"If you become dehydrated enough, you can become confused, or delirious, and you can wind up in the hospital. It can lead to all sorts of issues," said Doctor Bryan Durham, an Emergency Room Physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Most people think you have to be working out in the sun to become dehydrated, but that is not always the case.

"You don't have to be in the sun to become dehydrated. Dehydration is just not having enough fluids to meet your body's needs," Durham explained.

Recent research has found that even mild dehydration comes with big consequences - from altered mood and impaired memory to headaches and even constipation.

As we age, you become more susceptible to dehydration, and our ability to recognize thirst decreases. Plus our kidneys lose some of their precision in regulating the body's water supply.

The Institute of Medicine recommends women take in about 11 cups of fluid a day, and men take in about 15 cups, but that can also include liquids found in foods as well, like vegetables and fruits, many of which are made up of about 80 percent water. For example, a cup of watermelon contains about a half a cup of water.

While drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, Durham also says certain sports drinks can help replenish the body's needed fluid supply, but drinking alcoholic beverages will cause you to become dehydrated even quicker and that could lead to more troubles.

One way to know if you are not drinking enough of the proper fluids is by checking the color of your urine. Anything darker than a pale, straw color may mean you need to put more fluids into your body.

Durham recommends you start getting your body ready for the heat well before you go outdoors.

"You don't wait until you get in the sun to start drinking fluids. If you are going to be out working the next day, or have some big athletic event or concert, you usually start hydrating the day before," Durham recommended.

The bottom line - if you have been in the heat, and wind up with a fever, vomiting and excessive diarrhea, you may be suffering from severe dehydration, and you should head to the emergency room immediately.

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