California’s summer heat is scorching most of the state just as more and more people head outdoors to get relief from pandemic-induced cabin fever.
And for those exercising outside even moderately in 90-degree-plus temperatures, staying hydrated is critical—something many people often don’t do.
Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including heat injury that can range in severity from cramps to heat exhaustion, or heatstroke, that can be fatal. in some cases. Dehydration is particularly dangerous for children and older adults.
Water makes up roughly 75% of our bodies and is used for countless vital functions, yet the majority of Americans are believed to be dehydrated to some degree almost daily—whether there is exertion outdoors or not.
You lose water when you sweat. To avoid dehydration, drink lots of fluids and eat foods high in water content like fruits and vegetables. If you have strenuous exercise planned, hydrating the day before is ideal, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of a body’s need for water. Often, by the time people feel thirsty—especially older adults—they are already dehydrated. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Extreme thirst
- Less-frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
- Confusion or disorientation
If you believe you have become dehydrated while exercising outdoors, it’s important to stop and lower your body temperature by finding shade, drinking cold fluids, and using ice on your head and neck.
Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be reversed with lots of fluids (not caffeine or alcohol), but in severe cases, people should consult a doctor. Department of Consumer Affairs entities license hundreds of thousands of health care professionals throughout California. To check the license status of a health care professional, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.