It can get very hot in an Australian summer, but it doesn’t have to take a heatwave for dehydration to sneak up on you.
The more time you spend outdoors and the more active you are, the more water you need to replenish lost fluids. Replenishing fluids is especially important when the weather conditions are hot, as your body tends to sweat more.
General practitioner and medical director at HealthShare, Dr Jill Gamberg said people need on average two litres of water per day, taking care to factor in extra measures for consuming drinks with diuretic effects or the electrolytes lost from sustained exercise.
“Proper hydration will satisfy your thirst, and supports brain function, metabolic processes, transportation of vitamins and minerals, and helps maintain balance in body systems,” Dr Gamberg said.
Water is the best drink for effective hydration.
“Water is extremely important for health and is the basis of all human life. It makes up 75 per cent of body composition.”
Dr Gamberg offers some tips for hydration:
It starts with preparation
“Drink water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Your body loses fluids overnight while you sleep, especially if you sweat,” she said.
“Drink water before you get thirsty. Once you are thirsty, you are already slightly dehydrated and thirst is your body’s way of letting you know you need to replenish lost fluids.”
Dr Gamberg recommends people bring a water bottle with them to work and drink consistently over the day, refilling it multiple times throughout the day.
Maintain good hydration
Alcohol, coffee, and tea may count toward your daily fluid goal, but beware as these beverages can also have a diuretic effect, said Dr Gamberg.
“Although juices, energy drinks, and sodas are liquids, they are not ideal fluid replacement. Water is the best the fluid,” she added.
Replacing lost fluids from exercise
If you exercise, especially in the summer heat, you need to drink before, during and after exercise.
“Drink about 200-350 mL every 15-20 minutes while exercising, and drink 500-1000 mL post exercise. If you do long distance or a long duration of exercise, you will need to consider your electrolyte balance as well (sodium and potassium),” said Dr Gamberg.
Signs of dehydration
Check the colour of your urine.
“As a rule, light coloured urine is an indication you are well hydrated. If you are infrequently urinating and/or the colour of the urine is dark yellow, you may be dehydrated.
“Other symptoms of more serious dehydration like heat exhaustion and heat stroke include thirst, headache, constipation, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, irritability, muscle cramps, mood swings, oedema (swollen feet, ankles or legs), nausea and vomiting, and confusion,” Dr Gamberg said.
If you suspect you or someone you are with is experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke seek emergency assistance.
Have a great time over the summer – play at the beach, do your regular outdoor exercise, swim, and have fun, but make sure to keep you and your family well hydrated to avoid any issues.
- For more information visit HealthShare, a joint venture with Fairfax to improve the health of regional Australians. Or you can find a specialist near you using the health tool below.