Water World

It’s easy to forget how important water intake is to our everyday survival. In this incredibly hot weather, I’m often asked how much to drink to stay hydrated and healthy? The answer is not as clear as one would think.

Sure, we can find calculators that give us an idea how much to chug. Whether these are entirely correct is unclear. Matt Fitzgerald, writing in “Her Sports and Fitness Magazine,” explodes some old myths perpetuated by the sports drink and beverage industry.  For instance, drinking when thirsty is as effective as drinking continuously to stay hydrated. One exception is athlete’s and runners contemplating a hard work-out. It may help being well-hydrated before engaging in their sport.

Signs of dehydration (other than thirst of course) are dizziness, headache, fatigue, heart palpitations, visual disturbances, muscle weakness and confusion. Be very concerned if you stop sweating in hot weather. This means you’ve exhausted one of the body’s main mechanisms for cooling. When we stop sweating and develop confusion, becoming comatose is just around the corner—not to scare you, but this can be fatal. Anyone on medication has to especially vigilant. In many cases, we don’t know how the medication can affect the body’s ability to respond to loss of fluids. This is one reason health professionals suggest we check on our elderly neighbors during bouts of hot weather. They may unintentionally become dehydrated, due to medications and lack of effective air conditioning.

What is the beverage of choice? Despite what advertisers sell tell you, water works just fine. Not necessarily bottled water and it doesn’t have to come from a mountain stream, or from far away exotic lands. Out of the tap works just fine. Just remember, drink responsibly—keep sipping so the sweat doesn’t stop.

About Steve P. Sanders

A general internist writing and sharing ideas and art.

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