By Dr. Kenneth West, Mosier Troop Medical Clinic, Kenner Army Health ClinicAugust 3, 2017
FORT LEE, VA. (Aug. 3, 2017) -- It's important to staying well-hydrated during every moment of summer training or fun to prevent overheating.
Adequate hydration is vitally important when working and playing outdoors. Due to oppressive heat and increased activities, people sweat and the water in their bodies evaporates to help keep them cool. All of that sweating results in a lot of lost moisture.
Bodies are comprised of approximately 50-60 percent water. An adequate amount of water is needed to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes to allow bodies to function properly. Our systems and organs depend on water for regulation of cell health and vitality. This affects everything from brain, heart, and lungs to kidneys, muscles and skin.
"Hydration is key, not only for the summer months but also critical for health needs all year long," said Kimberly Schoen, Family Medicine Clinic nurse manager.
Even mild dehydration can make individuals feel really bad and can cause stomach upset, irritability, mild headache, achy joints and decreased performance.
Moderate dehydration can cause muscle and abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, dizziness and confusion. When urine is dark, rather than a light yellow or clear color, it's a good indicator that the body is not getting enough water.
Severe dehydration is a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Sometimes when dehydrated, a person cannot sweat enough to cool their body. High humidity also can make it difficult for sweat to evaporate and keep an individual cool. When sweating is not sufficient to cool the body, internal body temperature can rise to dangerously high levels, causing heat stroke.
Signs and symptoms of heat stroke are extreme exhaustion, disorientation or unconsciousness, severe cramping of muscles, seizures, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. The body cooling system shuts down completely, and skin is hot and dry. This is a life-threatening medical emergency -- call 911 if someone is seen exhibiting these symptoms.
Plan ahead to prevent these conditions. Stay informed about weather conditions, and avoid strenuous activities between 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on extremely hot days. Drink water or sports drinks every 20 minutes. Keep water available, and wear loose, light-colored clothing.
"If you know you have a day of strenuous activities outdoors, please 'pre-hydrate' by beginning to drink more water the day or two beforehand to build up the water in the body." Said Shoen.
Pay attention to heat index warnings, especially heat category 4 and 5, and respond by increasing periods of rest in cool, shaded areas or in air conditioning to cool down. As a general rule, take a break for 30-40 minutes after every 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise or work.
There's an app for everything -- including staying safe in the heat. Downloading the OSHA-NOISH Heat Safety Tool is another way to stay informed about weather conditions to calculate the heat index, or get reminders to drink and stay hydrated and plan rest breaks. To download, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.
Kenner Army Health Clinic wants to ensure all have a safe and fun summer. To schedule an appointment at the clinic, contact the patient appointment line 1-866-533-5242. For after-hours care, contact the nurse advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE and choose option 1.