FORT LEE, Va. (June 25, 2015) -- With the current heat wave and temperatures often soaring to 100 degrees fahrenheit, it’s important to take the proper precautions when spending time outdoors.
Due to the oppressive heat and increased activities, people sweat and the water in their bodies evaporates to help keep them cool.
Bodies need to have an adequate amount of water to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes to function properly. All body systems and organs depend on water for regulation of cell health and vitality. This includes the nervous system (all the nerves and brain); cardiovascular system (the heart and all of the blood vessels that bring oxygen to the cells); pulmonary system (bringing oxygen from the air into the body and expelling carbon dioxide); gastrointestinal system (allows absorption of water and nutrients to bodies and gets rid of toxic buildup of byproducts); and the integumentary system (fancy word for our skin, which is the largest organ of the body.
Skin maintains everyone’s temperature. It is a protective barrier for the internal organs; urinary system (kidneys and urine tract that detoxifies the blood and helps maintain the exact amount of electrolytes and nutrients in our blood); the musculoskeletal system (which is a big reservoir of water in our bodies); and many more important structures and processes.
Our body weight is comprised of approximately 50-to-65 percent water! People need to pay close attention to keeping themselves and loved ones well hydrated during every moment of summer fun.
High temperatures and humidity makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate and keep cool. Everyone needs to pay special attention to heat index warnings (especially heat category 3 and 4). This means people need to increase the periods of rest in a cool, shaded area or air-conditioning to cool themselves down. This generally means taking a break for 30-40 minutes after every 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise or work.
Even mild dehydration can make individuals feel really bad – stomach upset, irritable, mild headache, achy joints and decreased performance.
Moderate dehydration – “heat exhaustion” – can cause muscle and abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, dizziness and confusion. When urine is dark rather than a light yellow or clear color, it’s a good indicator the body is not getting enough water.
Severe dehydration – “Heat Stroke” – is a very dangerous condition that requires medical attention.
Signs and symptoms of heat stroke are extreme exhaustion, disorientation or unconsciousness, severe cramping of muscles, seizures, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. The body cooling system shuts down completely and skin is hot and dry. This is a life threatening medical emergency. People should call 911 if they see someone exhibiting these symptoms.
Just remember that dehydration and these symptoms correlate with just about every organ and system in our bodies.
To prevent these conditions from occurring, use common sense when deciding what time of day to be out and about performing strenuous work and exercise. Avoid these strenuous activities between of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on extremely hot days. Drink water and/or sports drinks every 20 minutes. People should keep water with them and wear loose, light colored clothing.
If a person knows he or she will have an upcoming day of strenuous activities outdoors, it is wise to “pre-hydrate” by beginning to drink more water the day or two before the planned activity to build up the water stores in the body.