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Stop Dehydration Before You Pass Out

Hundreds of people around the country will suffer from heat-related illnesses this summer and few of them will have the right solutions to solving their problems. So, instead of hiding in your air-conditioned abode and using the heat as an excuse for not exercising, here are a few tips so you can enjoy fun in the sun without the risk of waking up in a hospital bed.

"The first step is to drink plenty of fluids," Dr. Doug Propp, director of Emergency Services for Lutheran General Hospital said. "It's important to bring fluids with you, and when active or exercising to drink before, during and after you have stopped."

Here are some more tips to keep you on your feet this summer:

Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol — these fluids dehydrate the body rather than hydrate like water and sports drinks.

Sip sports drinks — The sodium in sports drinks has been scientifically proven to encourage drinking and promote hydration. In fact, research on active kids showed they'll drink 90 percent more of a sports drink than water.

Drink, don't drench — Pouring water over your head may feel good but it won't help at all at restoring body fluids or lowering body temperature. Fluids have to go IN the body.

Skip the sun — Exercise in the morning or evening when the weather is coolest. Wear light-colored clothing that is porous.

Help kids cope — Kids are more inclined to suffer from heat illness and dehydration since they don't sweat as much as adults. Kids should drink every 15 minutes when they are active.

Wetter is better — Don't change into a dry shirt at breaks or time outs. Completely soaked shirts do better at cooling the body.

Thirst takes its toll — If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Drink before you get to that point. Older people need to drink more — even if they are not thirsty — because our perception of thirst changes as we get older.

"Few people know in hot and humid conditions an active person can become dehydrated in just 15 minutes," said Dr. Moorehead. As little as 1-point-3-pounds of fluid loss for a 130 pound person can lead to early fatigue and increase the risk of dehydration."

Think you're dehydrated? "If someone is clearly dehydrated they should find a shady, cool place immediately," Propp said. "They also need to drink fluids immediately. If none of these things can be done, then they should go to the nearest emergency department for treatment." Here are a few tell-tale symptoms:

dry lips and tongue

apathy and lack of energy

muscle cramping

bright/dark urine

Source: Lutheran General Hospital

— Andrew Tufts —

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