SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Hot temperatures are back as we enter the second half of August, and with summer heat comes a greater risk of dehydration.
Thayne Munce, a sports scientist with Sanford Health, helped explain how to make sure dehydration doesn’t take you out of the game.
The first thing Munce brought up is that hydration is a long-term process. “It needs to start before [you] show up to the ballpark — hydration is a behavior and something that needs to be practiced regularly and habitually in order to get to a properly hydrated state,” he said.
Hydration, Munce said, is a process that can begin days in advance.
To really get in the habit of being hydrated, you need to be taking in water regularly. Munce suggests keeping a water bottle nearby, and sipping from it regularly.
“Get in the habit of drinking all the time — not as much as you can, but just regularly sipping on the drink,” Munce said. But how do you know if you’re drinking enough? “One of the key things to keep an eye on is [your] urination — how frequently and the color of the urine.”
Munce says you want to see urine the color of light lemonade. “That’s a good indication your body is getting the correct amount of fluids,” he said. “If you go several hours without needing to go to the restroom, you probably need to drink more frequently. If you go to the bathroom every 15 minutes and it’s a clear urine, you’re probably overdoing it.”
If you’re just working on your daily hydration, sipping water and being observant of your bathroom habits will probably be enough, but for those competing in sports or undertaking strenuous activity, there are other things you can do.
Munce recommends weighing yourself before and after intense activity such as a workout or athletic competition.
“Take a nude or near-nude body weight before a practice or workout session, then weigh yourself afterwards,” Munce said. “That difference in body weight is largely going to be accounted for by how much fluid you’re going to lose through sweat.”
Munce says that in general, you’ll want to drink somewhere between 16-20oz of fluid for every pound of weight you’ve lost. This, he notes, is in addition to whatever you would normally be drinking anyway.
Fluid loss in the heat is due to sweat. “The reason that we sweat while exercising in the heat is to dissipate heat away from our body,” Munce explained. Many variables go into how much we will sweat, such as intensity, time spent exercising and weather conditions such as humidity.
The more humid it is, the harder it is to get rid of our body heat, meaning we sweat more and lose more moisture.
The reason humidity leads to more moisture loss is due to the way that sweating works.
We sweat as a way to cool our bodies, but that cooling effect only occurs when the sweat is able to evaporate off of our skin, taking body heat with it. The higher the humidity in the air, Munce explained, the more difficult it is for the sweat to evaporate.
And that sweat has to evaporate to be useful. Munce explained that sweat which soaks into clothing, drips onto the ground or is wiped off with a towel does nothing to cool us.
So, the higher the humidity on hot days, the more sweat our body pumps out, and the more water we will need to take in to avoid dehydration.
Dehydration can be hard for some people to notice occurring. “The first bodily function that gets affected by dehydration is your central nervous system,” Munce told us. “So it starts to affect concentration, your ability to focus — you may have some confusion.”
Due to this, Munce and other experts advocate the buddy-system for hot days.
Other evidence of dehydration can include blurred vision, light headedness and nausea. “Ultimately it can lead to passing out and get even more dangerous than that,” Munce warned.
In the case of severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be needed, though fluids can be restored orally, albeit much more slowly. To make things easier, Munce said people can lay down and elevate their legs, “helping centralize that blood volume,” he said.
If you want to get a jump on your hydration, Munce recommends starting right away in the morning with some water. “Even if you skip breakfast, start drinking fluids,” he said. “In the night — that’s often the longest period of time you go without drinking anything.”