Dehydration occurs when the body lacks the fluids that it needs – particular if you haven’t had enough water to drink. Not only is drinking water essential in staying hydrated, but it also increases energy and decreases fatigue, flushes toxins from the body, improves the skin, boosts the immune system, helps headaches, and has many other health benefits. Dehydration can be a result of a fever, diarrhea and vomiting, in addition to overexposure to sunlight and heat. When we become dehydrated, the body loses important body salts such as calcium bicarbonate, phosphate, sodium and potassium.
With temperatures in Vancouver reaching as high as 30 degrees Celsius this week, it is important to keep yourself hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling weak, heavy sweating, nausea and vomiting, pale or cold and clammy skin, fainting, and a weak but fast heart rate, whereas symptoms of heat stroke include having an elevated temperature (typically above 103 degrees Fahrenheit), hot or red skin, a rapid heart rate, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is considered the more serious of the two conditions, and can be fatal.
Children under the age of 4 and seniors over the age of 65 are usually more susceptible to heat-related illness. You are also at an increased risk of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke if you are on prescription medications, such as ones used to treat heart conditions or high blood pressure, or if you are overweight.
To avoid dehydration, Dr Ali Ghahary recommends drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Drinking a sports drink, such as Gatorade, can also help to boost your electrolytes.
If you suspect you may be suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, it is important to seek medical attention right away. A blood test may be beneficial in finding out whether you are dehydrated, as it can detect the levels of sodium and potassium.
For more information on heat-related illness, follow Dr. Ghahary on Twitter.