(Baptist Health) – Summer’s arrival means it’s more important than ever to get enough fluids. The rising temperatures put you at risk for dehydration. That’s what happens when your body can’t adequately replace fluids lost through sweating.
Being even mildly dehydrated can cause a headache or muscle cramps. It can even put you at risk for a potentially life-threatening, heat-related illness like heatstroke. Here’s what you should know about meeting your body’s needs.
How much water do you need?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), water—not sugary drinks, like calorie-loaded sodas—is the best drink for staying hydrated. And you may have heard that you need six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.
That’s a reasonable goal for most people, the AAFP says. Even so, different people need different amounts of water. For example, people who sweat a lot need more than those who don’t. Certain health problems—like diabetes and heart disease—can also increase your fluid needs. And people with other conditions—like kidney disease or heart failure—may need to limit how much they drink. So it’s a good idea to check with your doctor if you’re not sure what’s right for you.
Think beyond the tap
Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. You can also get water from food, especially produce. In fact, many fruits and veggies are more than 90% water. That includes summertime favorites like strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, spinach and squash.
Sports drinks with electrolytes may also be a good choice if you exercise vigorously in very hot weather, the American Heart Association (AHA) advises.
However you choose to replenish your fluids, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to do so. By the time your mouth is dry, you’re already dehydrated, the AHA cautions.
That’s true even if you’ve only been sitting in the summer sun. You don’t have to be active to become dehydrated in hot weather.
One smart way to make sure a sip is always within reach: Carry a water bottle with you all day long, and drink often.
It’s a good idea to know the red flags of dehydration too. Urine color is an easy one to spot. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated, the AHA says. Dark urine means you need to drink more.
Watch out for other warning signs too, like a headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. And be sure to seek help for symptoms of severe dehydration, like confusion or weakness.