During the strong summer sun, it is important to protect your skin, but also to take care of one’s entire body. Dehydration can easily set in during coveted summer activities and a little precaution can stave off some important health issues. Your skin is a good indicator of whether or not hydration is adequate. Just pinch a small amount of skin on top of your wrist. When you release it, it should return to its normal position within one second. If not, chances are you are low on fluids. There is no need to buy expensive electrolyte solutions or “smart water” or “vitamin water”. Virtually any water will suffice. Just today in JAMA, there was an article stating that sugary drinks, including fruit juices, lead to higher cancer rates. Note that caffeine functions as a diuretic. If you drink caffeinated beverages, alternate with water so that you don’t dehydrate.
Dehydation affects the entire body. Dizziness, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing are all signs of too little circulating blood volume. Added to other medical conditions, serious health problems can occur. A little precaution goes a long way to prevent problems. I once had a 24 year old patient who worked in Ohio holding the stop sign for road construction. She was in the hot sun and had no fluids or shelter. She actually collapsed of heat stroke and was hospitalized. When I asked why she hadn’t drunk any fluids, she replied that she didn’t want to bother the other workers. So be your own best advocate this summer, and look after others who need extra care, like the elderly and very young.