According to NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) summer outlook, most of the United States is favored to have a hotter than average summer in 2017. Higher temperatures put everyone at risk – especially the elderly and young children – of becoming dehydrated. When dehydration is extreme, it can lead to dangerous heat stroke.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind whenever the thermometer trends upward:
Recognize the symptoms
The first step to preventing either heat stroke or dehydration is to know the early warning signs. There are two types of dehydration. The mild form is marked by dry skin, dizziness, thirst, constipation, dry mouth and diminished urine. Rapid breathing, fever, extreme thirst, increased heartbeat, sunken eyes and dry mouth accompany the more severe variation. Heat stroke has the same symptoms, but a sufferer will also experience nausea or vomiting, confusion and agitation and a higher body temperature (around 104 degrees Fahrenheit).
One of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent dehydration is to stay properly hydrated. It’s imperative to drink water throughout the day, and not only when you feel particularly thirsty. You can also rely on juice to stay hydrated, so long as the bottle reads “100 percent juice with no added sugar.” Juice has the added bonus of providing other essential nutrients. Just be sure to avoid caffeine and alcohol, as both of these can basically remove moisture from your system. To make sure you’re hydrated, regularly check your urine: The clearer it is, the better off you are.
Whereas heat stroke can also be prevented with fluids, it’s also important to consider what you’re wearing each day. If you’re going to be active outside for an extended period, wear lightweight clothes, preferably in light tones. These will help air circulate, and the lighter colors won’t absorb quite as much of the sun’s rays. You might also consider carrying around an umbrella if you aren’t wearing a hat. This will protect more of your body and limit exposure to harmful UV rays.
There is one surefire way to avoid either heat stroke or dehydration. Schedule your activities around the day’s forecast. The sun is usually at its peak between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Even when you are outside, it’s always a good idea to take regular breaks, sit in a shaded area and enjoy some water. Many people acclimate themselves to the heat by spending an increasing amount of time outdoors during the summer months. This can be a good way to raise your heat tolerance, but it’s important to monitor how you’re feeling.
Don’t ignore the signs
If ever you think you might be suffering from heat stroke or dehydration, seek out medical care immediately. With 17 locations across Massachusetts, CareWell clinics are equipped to handle both of these conditions with our signature compassionate care.