Staying Healthy and Hydrated in the Heat

Staying Healthy and Hydrated in the Heat

Avoid dehydrationFor DFW, the projected temperature for Summer 2016 hovers around the mid-90s. Although hot weather isn’t anything new for Texans (last year we had 18 days with temperatures over 100!), it never hurts to sit down and go over some reminders about what you can do to help make sure you and your kids have the most fun this summer. Today, we’re talking about staying hydrated.

Why It Matters

Did you know that every year, over 9,000 high school athletes need to be treated for heat illness? According to Lindsay Hansen, a program manager for Safe Kids Worldwide, that’s more than one kid every hour of every day of the year. And that’s only counting high school athletes!

The good thing is that prevention is relatively easy. You just have to make sure your child is drinking enough water. But how much water is enough water? To help answer that question, Safe Kids Worldwide breaks it down for us. Instead of thinking in ounces, think in gulps (with one gulp being 0.5 ounces of liquid). Younger athletes should drink approximately 10 gulps of water for every 20 minutes of time on the field. Teenagers, on the other hand, need about 20 gulps for that same period of time.

It also helps to know the early signs of dehydration. Teach these to your child so they can recognize dehydration, but as a parent, still be on the lookout for complaints about these symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cramps
  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth

 

The trick is to catch dehydration early. At that point, it’s an easy fix (just add water…and rest). If you’re not able to catch it early, it may cost you and your child a trip to the emergency room.

Additionally, people used to think that having kids play sports in the heat was dangerous, but new research shows that’s not entirely true. It all comes down to if your child is hydrated, in shape, and adjusted to the heat. You can read more about the study here.

But regardless of whether your child is at practice or playing in the park with friends, do what you can to keep them drinking fluids. Children are particularly vulnerable to heat illnesses, and when they’re having so much fun, they’re not likely to notice the early warning signs of dehydration.

Meet Dehydration’s Cousin, Heat Stroke

As dangerous as dehydration is, heat stroke is even worse. Heat stroke is the most severe heat illness and is the real reason you want to make sure your kids are staying hydrated.

When our body temperature gets too high, we’ll begin sweating to cool ourselves down. In cases where there’s extreme heat and we’re overexposed to it, sometimes our bodies aren’t able to sweat. That means our body temperature can become dangerously high and we can suffer from heat stroke. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate attention. Some of the symptoms are similar to those of dehydration, but can also include:

  • Seizure
  • High body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Hallucinations
  • Hot skin that’s not sweaty
  • Rapid pulse

 

If you think your child is having heat stroke, call an ambulance immediately—untreated heat stroke can result in permanent brain or organ damage or death. While you’re waiting for the ambulance, there are steps you can take to help:

  • Move the child into the shade
  • Cool them down however you can, like using water or ice, removing clothing, or fanning them
  • Try to get their body temperature below 102°F

 

For more information on the web, visit cdc.gov, safekids.org, or mayoclinic.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding dehydration or heat stroke, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.

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