How to beat the heat and stay hydrated

The summer heat is on and we all need tips to beat the heat. Learn how to stay hydrated and avoid having heat stroke in this article.

We are heading into one of the driest and warmest months of the year, and you would be experiencing the effects of the season by now. What can you do to prevent yourself or your loved ones from succumbing to the hot and dry spell?

Just remember the 3 S’s:

  • Stay Hydrated
  • Signs of Dehydration and Heat Stroke
  • Sun Protection

How To Stay Hydrated

The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

An adequate intake of water is important to ensure that we do not become dehydrated in this hot weather. Water is sufficient as a source of fluid replacement if you are planning to be active in a low-to-moderate-intensity activity, such as walking for an hour or less.

If you are planning to exercise for a longer period of time or if you are going to be in the sun for more than a few hours, you may want to hydrate with sports beverages, which contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to replace those lost during perspiration.

Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks should not be the first choice beverage for the purpose of hydration as these can cause the body to lose even more fluid and worsen the dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration and Heat Stroke

In addition to ensuring proper hydration in this hot weather, it is also important to be able to recognise the signs of dehydration.

These signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flushed skin
  • Heat intolerance
  • Light-headedness
  • Dark colored urine

Ignoring the signs above may lead to heat stroke which would require immediate medical attention.

Signs of heat stroke would include:

  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • The absence of sweating

Those who are more susceptible to heat stroke would include

  • Infants
  • Elderly
  • Athletes
  • Those who work outdoors and physically exert themselves under the sun

Sun Protection

It is also advisable for those who are planning to go out in the sun to use sun protection such as sunscreens. A good sunscreen would be one that is able to block both UVA (Ultraviolet A) and UVB (Ultraviolet B), with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. Also, the use of sun screens which are water resistant is advisable, even if your activity does not include swimming as this stays on the skin longer even when it is wet.

 

Seeing that the current hot weather is expected to stay with us for a while, it is important that we take the necessary precautions to ensure that we remain protected from the harsh elements. Stay hydrated, stay cool, stay healthy!

This article was contributed by Peter Yap, Principal Pharmacist of NTUC Health.