When you spend time outside in hot weather you probably start to feel thirsty in a fairly short time. That’s a normal response and one you should pay close attention to—it means your body needs more water to deal with the heat. Learn why this happens, the symptoms of dehydration, and how to ensure you are drinking enough water when the temperatures rise.
Your Body Needs Water to Deal With Heat
Your body functions best within a certain temperature range, and when you get too warm, it needs to cool off. There are a couple of ways your body accomplishes this cooldown. First, your blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to the skin. This allows excess heat to radiate away from your body. Then, you also start to sweat. Evaporation of the sweat cools the skin, which in turn helps to cool the whole body. But, the problem is that excessive sweating can lead to dehydration.
You sweat more when the temperature’s hot, especially if you’re working or exercising in the heat. Drinking water helps replenish the fluids lost by excessive sweating. If you don’t get enough water, you may become dehydrated, and the combination of hot temperatures and dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses.
Signs You Need More Water
For most people, thirst is a very good indication that you need more water. Even before you become dehydrated, you’ll feel thirsty, and your mouth may feel dry or sticky.
After a while, you may also become lethargic and fuzzy-headed. Other signs include reduced urine output (and the urine is dark yellow). You might even notice your eyes look a bit sunken and feel dry.
Even a little dehydration can be a problem, so don’t ignore those early signs. Even mild dehydration reduces your ability to think clearly and your physical coordination.
Tips for Hydrating in Hot Weather
- Start hydrating right away. It’s easier to maintain your fluid balance if you start out in a well-hydrated state.
- Schedule regular beverage breaks and keep a water bottle handy so you can take frequent sips of water while you work or exercise.
- Choose electrolyte-replacing drinks for maximum water absorption when you are exercising for more than an hour or when you are sweating excessively during exercise in hot weather.
- Drink water after you’ve finished work or an exercise session.
- Snack on fresh fruits that are rich in water, like berries, watermelon, peaches, and nectarines.
- Don’t drink large amounts of plain water all at once—this can lead to hyponatremia or water-toxicity. This can also affect long-distance runners during races who push too many fluids. It is best to drink when thirsty during exercise and not push fluids.
One way to gauge your hydration level is to look at the color of your urine. If you’re well-hydrated, it should be pale. Also, you’ll be urinating more frequently.
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