Beat the Heat
By Dr. Ann Lima
Staying cool and hydrated may be a bit tough when we have multiple days above 100 degrees, but here are some tips to keep yourself healthy in the heat.
Most people, who don’t have a fluid limit advised by their doctor, should be drinking 2-3 quarts or liters of water daily as a minimum at all times of the year. Remember that caffeinated drinks, sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages do not count in that quota, and may contribute to dehydration. When it is hot or you are exerting yourself, you likely have to take in more than that minimum to stay ahead of the water you are losing. If you are sweating a lot then you may also need more than just water. If you are not eating food with sodium and other electrolytes along with drinking water, then you may need to have some sort of electrolytes added to your water. If you are on a low-salt diet, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or other chronic conditions, you may want to discuss additives with your doctor. If you are taking diuretics (water pills) and exerting yourself in the heat, you are at higher risk of dehydration.
Keep yourself protected from the sun. A sunburn not only hurts and can cause skin damage, but it also prevents your body from being able to adequately cool itself. You should wear sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat, long sleeves made of a light, cool fabric, and sunglasses when outside.
It is good to know public places in your community with air conditioning – like the local library and clinic – and head to these or other cooler destinations if you do not have relief from the heat in your own home.
If you need to exercise or work outdoors, you should try and do these activities in the early morning, and rest in the shade as much as possible. Make sure to pace yourself, you should not be going as fast as you do in cooler weather.
If you find yourself getting short of breath, suffering cramps, feeling nauseous or dizzy, or your heart rate is going fast it is important to rest, get out of the heat, and you may need medical attention.
Enjoy the summer but stay cool and hydrated!