When it's hot outside, it's easy to get dehydrated. It can happen before you know it and land you in the ER. That's why it's important to know what signs to look for.
Dr. Richard Lamson, a family physician at GBMC says dehydration "creeps up on you. You're not really aware that you're getting dehydrated. And because it can make you sleepy, it can make you stupid before you realize you're in trouble."
The first sign of dehydration is thirst. Dr. Lamson says, "The body really wants to make sure that you maintain adequate hydration and if you're thirsty that's because your body says you have too little water in the tank."
To keep the tank running, you should drink at least a quart of water every hour if you're out on a hot day.
Light headedness is another sign you might be dehydrated. Dr. Lamson says, "When you don't have enough fluid, the heart can't pump fast enough to get blood up to your brain and so when you change positions suddenly your heart catches up but it takes a second or two. You can have 1 second to 30 seconds of dizziness and light headedness where you feel like you're just going to pass out."
The third sign of dehydration is muscle weakness and cramps. Dr. Lamson says, "You have pain in the muscles or cramps in the stomach or cramps in the arms and legs. It's very important to pay attention to that and get into some place cool and drink."
But make sure you drink the right thing. Alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks can make you more dehydrated.
The fourth sign of dehydration is when you don't urinate as much. Dr. Lamson says, "The body really wants to make sure you have enough fluids, so the first thing that happens when you start being dehydrated is your kidney say I'm sorry I can't give you enough water, your urine gets darker yellow and less and less of that and eventually it will stop making urine entirely and then you're in real trouble, you have to be in the emergency room."
To avoid that trip to the ER, avoid going out during the hottest parts of the day.
The fifth and final thing to look out for is sleepiness, a sign that your body needs to recharge on water. Dr. Lamson says, "The body will make you tired so that you don't go out in the sun and lift a bunch or rocks, you want to slow down, when your body says slow down, there's a reason for it."
If you stop sweating, your skin turns red, and you have a high fever, go to the ER right away.
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