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with Joni Gerken

As the sunny days of summer come and the heat rises, ensuring you are hydrated can be critically important. It is important to not rely on thirst alone because dehydration may have already started before you notice you are thirsty. Children and elderly individuals are at increased risk for dehydration, especially because they tend to be less sensitive to thirst sensation. Lasting damaging effects of dehydration are more likely for those with kidney or heart conditions.

Mild dehydration can effect mood. If you are outside expecting to be enjoying a beautiful sunny day but find yourself irritable and having a hard time focusing, you might be dehydrated. Mild to moderate symptoms of dehydration also include dry mouth, decreased urine output, sleepiness, and dizziness. Severe dehydration not only has a higher degree of these symptoms but can cause rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, fever, diarrhea, and even loss of consciousness.

Regular and frequent intake of water is an obvious solution to prevent dehydration, but other beverages can work too. Juices, milk, and sports drinks can provide lost electrolytes if you are heavily sweating, in addition to meeting hydration needs. Though, be conservative with sugary beverages to not add unnecessary calories. Recently, caffeinated beverages have been included in hydration options, especially if you consume them regularly which makes your body less sensitive to the diuretic stimulation of caffeine. Even fresh fruits can help give you a boost of fluid.

General recommendations for fluid intake for adults is 35mL of water per kilogram of body weight. So a 150 lb (68 kg) person needs about 2400mL or 10 cups of water. Fortunately, this includes the water that comes from the food we eat too. On a hot day to be safe, the old rule of 8 glasses a day isn’t a bad idea.

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