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Heat Disorders – Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If lost fluid is not replenished, you may suffer serious consequences.

Inadequate intake of water during hot weather or exercise also may deplete your body’s water stores. Common causes of dehydration include vomiting, diarrhea, fever or excessive sweating. Anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk.

Mild dehydration can cause symptoms such as

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Dehydration can be treated by replenishing the lost fluids your body has lost. Drink at least 32 ounces of water or sports drinks slowly and steadily. Rest, if you don’t feel better, drink more slowly and steadily.

Six tips for preventing dehydration and staying safe in the sun

Replace fluids at the same rate you are expending them.

Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink water consistently throughout the day. If you are sweating a lot, then drink the appropriate amount of water to match.

Wear light- colored, thin fabrics and loosely fitting clothing.

The clothes you wear have a great effect on your overall body temperature, especially in the direct sunlight. Lighter clothes doesn’t absorb as much heat and looser clothes allow air to pass along the skin and carry away heat.

Avoid caffeine.

Caffeine is a diuretic, and actually absorbs moisture. Drinking caffeinated drinks can contribute to dehydration, because while it is fluid intake for the body it is pulling water out of your system.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables have high water content naturally and are easy to digest, reducing the energy your body is expending. When you fill your diet with these foods, you’re getting good nutrients while also hydrating yourself.

Take breaks from direct sunlight and heat.

Break up your heat exposure with stints of cooler temperatures. Get inside or in the shade for lunch and water breaks. Allow your body to cool, instead of only increase in temperature over time.

Use a fan, cold washcloth or mister.

Find ways to bring down your body temperature or keep it at a lower base level throughout the day. The lower your body temperature, the less fluid loss, and a decreased risk for dehydration.

While extended heat exposure is likely unavoidable, taking tips like these to the job site will help you take preventative action to protect yourself and others from dehydration and other heat-related health risks.

These tips may require extra effort, but the benefit will far outweigh the cost throughout the hot days ahead.