Here in the Twin Cities, it’s hot out today! With the humidity, the heat index is expected to rise well over 100 degrees. And since it’s not a dry heat, it can be really hard to tolerate. It literally feels like you are walking into a cloud of heat.
And temperatures like this can be legitimately dangerous. Being exposed to this kind of long term heat can cause dehydration, sunburn, and heat stroke. Dehydration can be the easiest among these to combat, yet it can sneak up on you quickly.
As we spend time in hot environments, our body works hard to maintain homeostasis, or keeping all systems functioning as they should. One tactic the body uses to cool down is to sweat. Water is released through pores onto the skin, where it evaporates and provides some cooling. Unfortunately, when it’s this humid out, sweating isn’t efficient enough to make much of a difference, yet we continue to sweat and lose water.
It can take 30 to 60 minutes for your body to absorb and distribute the water, so the best way to beat dehydration is to be proactive and drink water before you feel thirsty, and drink often. Hot weather or excessive exercise can increase fluid loss up to 1-2 liters per hour!
Drinking coffee and alcohol can also contribute to dehydration, so be extra careful with your consumption of both of these delicious beverages during this hot weather.
Because everyone is different, we all require different amounts of water. The guidelines for adequate intake of water is 2.7 liters for women, and 3.7 liters for men. The individual amount you need to be healthy will rise with activity or heat, so plan on drinking a few extra glasses of water today.
There are a few obvious signs of dehydration, please monitor yourself and loved one for any of these symptoms. If in doubt, seek medical advice!
Signs of dehydration:
- Muscle cramps
- Darker than normal urine
- Inability to sweat or urinate
- Pounding heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
So what if you don’t like water? Suck it up, Butter Cup! Just kidding. There is a balance between doing the bare minimum of what it takes to be healthy and still enjoying life, but there is also a way to sneak in a little bit of fun. Here are a few ideas to make your water a little more exciting:
Place several slices of fruit in a pitcher of water and leave in the fridge over night. You can also put fruit straight into a large water bottle and take it with you as you go.
Add some flavor:
Pour in a splash of fruit juice, or a squeeze of lemon into your water.
Make it the right temp:
The temperature of water can affect the flavor and palatability, so make sure you’re drinking it the way you like it. If you like ice cold water, then make sure you’re getting it straight from the fridge or with lots of ice. If cold water hurts your teeth or gives you a headache, then let your water sit out for awhile before drinking it.
I hope this helps you stay safe this humid summer!