Thirsty? You’re already dehydrated

Summertime means lots of people are outside dealing with the heat – some by choice and some because they have to. Whatever the reason, staying hydrated is the key to dealing with hotter temperatures, said a Baylor College of Medicine physician.

“The rule of thumb is, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even before you begin your outdoor activity,” said Dr. Irvin Sulapas, a primary care sports medicine physician and assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor.

This applies to people who workout or play sports outdoors as well as those whose jobs keep them outside day in and day out, like electricians and yard maintenance workers. In fact, Sulapas said those are the people he is particularly worried about because of their prolonged heat exposure.

When the body becomes dehydrated, it works to retain fluids lost through sweating by decreasing urinary output. Constipation also can result as the body works to retain water. Dehydration also involves the cardiovascular system, resulting in decreased blood pressure and increased pulse.

“The whole body is essentially trying to conserve water despite you sweating it out,” he said. “The body can tolerate 1 to 2 percent of water loss but anything more than that will present problems. This will decrease your work or athletic performance.”

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