Hydrating to beat the heat


AVOCA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – With 90’s in the forecast for several days, we have the makings for our first, full-fledged heat wave this summer. You’ll need to stay hydrated for your body to function in stifling conditions. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, sometimes drinking plain H2O isn’t always the best option.

The summer heat can work up your thirst but when temperatures reach the 90s, it really raises the stakes. Blame it on your body’s struggle to have enough fluid so that you can both sweat and pump blood to your muscles. “We sweat to give off some of the heat particularly when the atmospheric heat is so high. So we’re losing water throughout the day,” said Commonwealth Health Family Physician Tina George, MD.

Dr. George says you need to replenish 64 ounces or a half-gallon of water through a combination of drinking water or eating high water content foods. But plain H2O isn’t always the obvious answer. Take, for instance, toddlers and young children who often play to the point of getting overheated. “They’re more likely to complain of these vague symptoms of being tired or headache or belly pain and so parents need to be aware those things can be caused by the heat in which case we just recommend rehydrating. Popsicles, Italian ice. Sometimes kids will take those more eagerly than they’ll take water and that’s fine.”

Sometimes a salt-containing beverage like a sports drink is the solution. “If a child or young person were to get, you know, severely dehydrated then we might recommend that,” said Dr. George who added that it’s the same story for athletes like youth football players at summer practices. “Those populations probably should be drinking a fluid that contains the electrolytes that a sport drink has.”

Those of us on medications like diuretics, beta blockers and stimulants have added hydration concerns in the heat. Dr. George says there’s a sure-fire way to determine if you’re sufficiently hydrated. “Your urine is the best indicator. So, if your urine is clear to light yellow you’re drinking enough.”

Dr. George says babies should be sufficiently hydrated during heat waves if they’re being bottle fed or nursing every two to four hours. She advises you to dress babies in light, loose clothing and keep an eye out for a prickly heat rash or if the baby becomes lethargic.

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