Mother Nature unleashed her heat and humidity on Memorial Day weekend. While it looks like we’ll get a break from the inferno this week, those hot, hot days are sure to return before we’re blessed with a snowfall.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your children in the blistering heat is to stay hydrated with cold water. Not soda. Not lemonade. Not even iced tea. Plain, cold water is best.
The scary thing about dehydration is that you don’t have to feel thirsty to be dehydrated. In fact, by the time you’re feeling a little sluggish or sickly, your body is already screaming that it needs some fluids. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration happens when your body uses or loses more fluids than it takes in, and cannot maintain proper body functions. Urinary and kidney problems, seizures, shock and heat stroke are serious health issues that dehydration can cause. Dehydration can even cause death. (Mayo Clinic, 2018)
Our bodies are continuously using up fluids during even simple activities such as breathing, crying and bathroom visits. On a hot, humid day, during a bout of sickness, or when your child is having so much fun playing that he forgets to take a drink, it’s easy to use up more fluids than what are taken in. That’s when dehydration occurs. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable, and they may not be able to communicate that they don’t feel quite right. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents and care givers to watch for these signs of mild to severe dehydration:
Mild to Moderate Dehydration:
n Plays less than usual
n Urinates less frequently (for infants, fewer than six wet diapers per day)
n Parched, dry mouth
n Fewer tears when crying
n Sunken soft spot of the head in an infant or toddler
n Stools will be loose if dehydration is caused by diarrhea; if dehydration is due to other fluid loss (vomiting, lack of fluid intake), there will be decreased bowel movements.
Severe Dehydration (in addition to the symptoms and signals already listed):
n Very fussy
n Excessively sleepy
n Sunken eyes
n Cool, discolored hands and feet
n Wrinkled skin
n Urinates only one to two times per day
Check out more details at: https://www.healthychildren.org
Adults also need to be mindful that caffeinated drinks, including sodas and coffee, as well as alcohol, can cause dehydration. While an icy cold soda or frosty beer might seem like the perfect drink to quench your thirst on a sunny day at the beach, drinking these beverages in the heat of the day is one of the worst things you can do for your body. Reach instead for an icy cold bottle of water.
The next time you head out to the beach or a summer picnic – or even an afternoon of lounging in a chair with a good book – throw some bottled water into your cooler and include healthy, hydrating foods such as tomatoes, watermelons, strawberries, grapefruit, lettuce and cucumbers.
Dehydration can quickly become a serious health concern and requires immediate attention. If your child is unresponsive or not improving after drinking water, seek immediate medical attention.
Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dunebrook, call 800-897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at email@example.com.