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Published on July 09, 2013

Get Plenty of Sips and Shade This Summer

July 9, 2013

SummerYour son is practicing for high school football in 100-degree heat. Your daughter is spending her summer lounging in the sun. You walk every evening after work. June is one of the hottest months of the year, so no matter what activity calls you outside, take precautions to protect yourself and your family from dehydration. Though we all lose some water every day in our sweat, tears and urine, we can usually replace it. However, if abnormally large amounts of water are lost through fever, diarrhea, vomiting or long periods of exercise, dehydration can occur. Learn to recognize the signs of dehydration and prevent it with the following tips from the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Signs and Symptoms

  • For infants, fewer than six wet diapers per day (more than four to six hours without a wet diaper in a younger infant under 6 months of age)
  • No urination for six to eight hours in children
  • Dry mouth (looks "sticky" inside)
  • Dry, wrinkled, or doughy skin (especially on the belly and upper arms and legs)
  • Inactivity or decreased alertness
  • Excessive sleepiness or disorientation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Deep, rapid breathing
  • Fast or weakened pulse

Stay Hydrated

Getting your kids to stop long enough to take a drink might be difficult, but it will help prevent dehydration, especially if they drink water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that athletes (or anyone!) stop every 30–45 minutes for a drink. No matter what your activity, if you spend time in the sun, drink plenty of fluids the entire time.

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

These three common heat-related conditions can strike you without warning.

  • Heat Cramps. These are painful muscle contractions, usually in the hamstring, caused by heat, hydration or poor conditioning. They usually improve with rest, drinking water and a cool environment.
  • Heat Exhaustion. A result of exercises heat and dehydration, the signs of heat exhaustion includes paleness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fainting. Rest and water may help in mild heat exhaustion, but more severely exhausted patient may need IV fluids, especially if vomiting keeps them from drinking enough.
  • Heat Stroke. Heat stoke is a medical emergency. Victims have warm, flushed skin but do not sweat. They also typically have a high temperature and may be delirious, unconscious, of suffering seizures. If you see signs of heat stroke in someone, call 911 immediately.

Sources: cdc.govnlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heatillness.html

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