Water, water, water is SO IMPORTANT in this heat

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

With the rising temperatures, let’s talk about heat stress hydration.

Sommer said, “This is if you work outside are you spending a lot of time outside, it is the summer, people are traveling, sightseeing. So it’s important, make sure you stay hydrated because you are losing a lot of your body fluid through sweat.”

Drinking water is one of the most important things you can do.

Sommer said, “They recommend drink before you feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, and you’re behind. Dehydration is the primary cause of heat exhaustion. So you want to try and avoid that, especially right now, as we talked about the heat index and the temperature.”

Dehydration can start with headaches and lethargy.

Sommer said, “You feel very sluggish. You feel very sleepy. Even in extreme cases you can have just overall not feeling well.”

When working in the heat, what’s the recommendation for consumption of water?

Sommer said, “This is from the CDC:  when working in the heat drink one cup, that’s eight ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. So this translates to three quarters to one quart, 24 to 32 ounces per hour. This is if you’re working outside and in extreme heat. If you’re home in the air conditioning, you don’t do this. But this is if you’re outside, working in the heat or you’re going to spend an entire day outside, walking, sightseeing or yard work.”

Is there such a thing as too much water?

“Yes,” Sommer confirmed. “Do not drink more than 48 ounces in an hour. Drinking too much water and other fluids, that includes sports drinks and energy drinks, can cause a medical emergency, it can hurt your kidneys. It also can offset the how much sodium you have in your body. You have a certain amount of sodium in your body. So you don’t want to drop the salt content, it becomes too low and that can lead to a big health issue.”

Drinking in shorter intervals is better.

Sommer said, “That’s why they recommend every 15 to 20 minutes, stop, take a drink, and then continue.”

When you’re done with the outside work, continue to drink.

Sommer said, “You need to replace it because you’re losing it. Even though you’re drinking while you’re doing it, you’re still losing it, you’re just trying to keep a balance. So then you need to rehydrate when you stop working to keep your body hydration at a steady level.”

Water is more important than other drinks.

Sommer said, “Energy drinks, too much caffeine, coffee, tea soft drinks, they don’t recommend you do that. Drinking several energy drinks a day can raise your caffeine levels, then that can affect your heart and so can dehydration. So you want to try not to drink as much caffeine. Just stick with the water.”

Alcohol is not going to help either.

Sommer said, “Everybody growing up, my dad always reached for that beer when he was mowing the lawn. It’s not recommended.”

What about salt tablets?

Sommer said, “They do not recommend it. You can replace yourself by eating normal meals and snacks throughout the day that contain salt. Even foods that you don’t think would have salt, a lot of them do, just naturally.”

What about sports drinks?

Sommer said, “In general, if you eat regular meals and you take adequate water, it should maintain your electrolyte balance. I mean, if you’re going to be prolonged sweating, and you’re not going to be able to eat that meal you can use some sports drinks to help out the electrolytes.”

Is hydration an issue even if you’re just being leisurely outside?

Sommer said, “It just depends. If you feel like you’re sweating a lot, just again, always have water available, always carry a bottle of water with you. The big metal keeps everything cool. They really do work. So we take those wherever we go. Even if you leave it in the car. A lot of times the water stays cool.”

Actually your urine is a good indicator on how your hydration is doing.

Sommer said, “If your urine is more like a dark yellow, you’re severely dehydrated. You’ve got to pay attention. I know that sounds crazy to look at your pee, but it’s an indicator of where you are in a balance with your body. So you really want it a pale yellow, like a light yellow. I mean at all times. That’s just an indicator that you’re well hydrated at all times. When it’s darker, like a dark amber, really dark, you’re not getting enough hydration.”