Dos and Don’ts of Hydration in a Heat Wave

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The heat—sad and oppressive—doesn’t subside. Today, a third of Americans are under a heat warning as temperatures continue to rise: Phoenix has hit 110 degrees Fahrenheit. for two weeks straightwhile this week in Death Valley in California can more normal temperature of 130 degrees.

Even temperatures much lower than that can be dangerous. Recently, in Texas, Louisiana, parts of Arizona, and Florida, there have been reports about death from heat, and general information at the hospital. The magnitude of global warming is currently poorly understood: A a new report suggests thatt Last summer’s heat wave in Europe killed more than 60,000 people.

Ideally, you can stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Not everyone can choose. Another thing to do is stay hydrated. The need for adequate water supply is hard to overstate—and often underappreciated: Last month, the Texas state legislature banned local governments from mandating water breaks for construction workers. Heat, hydration “affects everything,” Stavros Kavouras, director of the Hydration Science Lab at Arizona State University, in Phoenix, told me. And as the temperature continues to rise, it’s important to get it right.

Severe dehydration is really bad for you. Your blood pressure decreases, which makes your heart work better. Kavouras told me: “Your ability to metabolize heat decreases, so your body temperature increases.” You may feel weak or dizzy. Your heart rate increases; it’s hard to think about. The worst case scenario is hypothermia, when your body stops cooling itself – a medical condition that can be fatal.

In extremely hot climates, heat injuries can happen faster than you might think. Since the human body is mostly made up of water, you would think that there are others to take care of, but sadly, this is not the case. “If you lose even 10 percent of [the water] your body has, you’re getting into a really tough spot,” Kavouras said. “And if you look the right level health, even losing just 1 percent of your body weight affects your ability to work. There are two ways your body cools itself when it’s hot. One is to send more blood to the skin, which draws heat from the core of your body, and that’s why you turn red when you’re hot. Another is sweating. It evaporates from your body, and in the process, your body loses a lot of heat. You can’t cool yourself properly if you’re not properly hydrated. At the same time, one of your best ways to cool down is to dehydrate, which means the goal isn’t just to add water. to be hydrated, but staying so.

What it takes depends on many factors rather than one universal law, but in general, a dangerous place is “high humidity with everything above 90 degrees,” said Kavouras, at that time, “it’s dangerous” just to be outside. The more active you are in the heat, and the more humid the heat, the greater the risk – and proper hydration becomes even more important. The average water intake in the US during the summer is 3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters for women. The hotter you are, the more you need. Even if you spend most of the day in the comfort of AC, you are leaving the house others point.

Instead of trying to figure out how much it is, Kavouras recommends looking at two things instead. “No. 1, keep water close to you. “If you have water near you, or any healthy drink, you drink more, because it is close,” he said. And second: Check how often you urinate—light gray urine, six to seven times a day, or every two to three hours, is good. You want it to be “similar to Chablis, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or champagne,” John Higgins, a sports cardiologist at McGovern Medical School at UTHalth, in Houston, told me. “If you notice that the urine is starting to darken, like the color of a Chardonnay- or Sauvignon Blanc-thing, it means that you are dehydrated.”

Some groups are more vulnerable. Older people are more prone to dehydration, as are young children, pregnant women, and people taking certain medications—for example, blood thinners. None of these require you to log in additions liquids of any kind, you just have to be very careful that you are eating enough.

As for what to drink, as a go-to drink, straight water is hard to beat. Water with fruit slices floating in it has the benefit of feeling like something from a luxury hotel. Carbonated water is also good — you may not be able to drink too much of it, which is a problem, but “there’s no mechanism in your GI that will make sparkling water ineffective at hydrating you,” Kavouras said. You probably want to avoid downing big buckets of coffee—caffeine is a diuretic and Higgins warns against sugary drinks for the same reason. (A daily iced coffee is fine.) If you sweat a lot, then you can work in (sugar-free) sports drinks. But for most people, the water is still good. Food can also be a source of fluid: “Make sure you eat foods that contain vegetables and fruits that contain water,” William Adams, director of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Hydration, Environment and Thermal (HEAT) Stress Lab, advised. Alcohol, what makes you do it throw away liquid, of course it doesn’t help.

There are many water myths out there. Can you go harder? Technically, it is possible to overhydrate, causing an electrolyte imbalance, but all three experts agreed that for most people, this is not a concern. You can find conflicts drinking hot drinks in the summer-the idea that they increase your sweat; thereby promoting cooling. But Kavouras stresses that it’s best to drink cold drinks, which cool your body, he said. Just before the start of the race, marathon runners sometimes go further, slathering on ice to cool down their body temperature. For good old-fashioned drinking water, approx 50 degrees Fahrenheit it’s much better—about the temperature of cold water at the tap.

One final key to staying hydrated: Start early. Most people, Higgins said, don’t have enough water all the time, hot weather or not. “So especially when you wake up in the morning, you’re often dehydrated.” Therefore, they recommend that people drink about a 17-hour-equivalent bottle of water – as soon as they wake up. Another thing people forget, he said, is what happens when they go back inside after enduring outside. “You’re sweating,” he said. In other words: hydrate, and then to save hydrating.

Although hydration is important, it is not a miracle. “It doesn’t mean you can say, ‘I’m well hydrated, so I’m going to go for a run in 120-degree weather, and I’m going to be fine because I drink a lot,'” Kavouras said. . “It doesn’t work like this.” However, it is a simple but effective tool. As heat waves like this become more frequent, more people will need to learn how to manage their hydration. And maybe enough water can be a twisted comfort: You can’t control the constant heat, but you can control the water you drink. In hot weather, it helps to have the idea of ​​filling the glass with still water.


This article is part of the Atlantic Planet series sponsored by HHMI’s Science and Educational Media Group.

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