Proper hydration is essential for our health and well-being. This is particularly true for older adults and seniors. This is because as we get older our bodies retain less water, which can make one may not feel regularly feel thirsty until they are very dehydrated. So why is important to keep hydrated?
Not drinking enough water can lead to a number of health issues such as:
- Muscle cramps
- Low blood pressure
It is particularly important to make sure that we are hydrated during warmer weather, especially in the summer. Lack of hydration when it is hot can lead to heat-related illness. There are two main type of illness to note:
Heat exhaustion: This is a condition where your body has been exposed to heat for an extended period of time. As a result, your body overheats followed by dehydration. There are two types of heat exhaustion, one is depletion of water in the body caused by exposure to high temperatures and fewer intakes of fluids. Symptoms can include excessive thirst, body weakness and sometimes unconsciousness. The second one is salt depletion. This usually occurs after several days to those who replace the fluid, but do not to replace the salt. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, paleness, profuse sweating. In the treatment of heat exhaustion, it is essential for anyone suffering from this to immediately get out of the heat and lying down to rest. If one can get inside in an air conditioned room, that is better.
Heatstroke: This is a heat-related injury of the body overheating as a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Symptoms can include dry hot skin, bright red skin color, labored breathing, body temperature of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Heatstroke should be treated as an emergency. If it is not treated immediately, it can lead to serious effects like brain damage and failure of the kidneys and/or heart. The longer the treatment is delayed the higher the risks of damage which can also lead to death.
Heat-related illnesses can be prevented by:
- Drinking plenty of fluids- this will enable sweating and help to maintain a balanced body temperature
- Allow time to get acclimated- it takes time before your body adjusts to the hot weather, until then, spend less time until your body gets accustomed to it
- Keep cool- in case of heatstroke, cool the body down as much as possible. That can be done by wet towels, ice pack or fan
- Wear sun screen. This helps in preventing sunburns which may lead to damaged skin.
- Wear hat and loose/free clothes
Although water is the best way to stay hydrated, alternatively, you can also consider eating water-rich foods. In addition to these foods having a high water content, they also have other important nutrients than the body needs for normal functions of the body. These foods can include:
Let’s stay cool and hydrated!
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