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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Brandon Yew on August 18, 2022

Best Ways To Prevent Dehydration Symptoms In Hot Weather

Dehydration symptoms include headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, poor coordination, and lack of concentration. Learn how to prevent them here.

Hydration tips min 1 scaled

Dehydration symptoms can sneak up on you if you’re working or having fun in the hot weather and not drinking enough water. And while it might not seem like something you need to worry about, dehydration can be dangerous.

According to a 2018 study published in BMC Public Health, you can become dehydrated if you lose as little as 3% of your body weight from water loss. In addition, dehydration by 1% to 2% is also associated with poor memory and cognitive performance.

You might be dehydrated if you’re having a hard time making decisions or your muscles start to cramp. Regardless, you can still enjoy a fun day in the sun. Let’s explore the dehydration symptoms and tips to stay hydrated.

What Causes Dehydration?

Dehydration can happen more quickly if you have diabetes, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you have been in the sun too long, you can get dehydrated and have a heatstroke.

Drinking too much alcohol and sweating too much after exercising can also lead to dehydration. Moreover, taking diuretic medicines, such as some antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, calcium channel blockers (for blood pressure), antipsychotics, and medicines for type 2 diabetes, and having a high temperature of 38°C or more can also result in dehydration.

It is important to note that babies, children, and the elderly are more prone to dehydration. So, keep an eye on your loved ones and make sure they are hydrating regularly.

Dehydration Symptoms To Be Aware Of

Dehydration symptoms may include a headache and lack of concentration.

Common symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include:  

  • Dry mouth/tongue 
  • Thirst  
  • Headache  
  • Lethargy  
  • Fatigue  
  • Dry skin  
  • Dark yellow urine 
  • Muscle weakness  
  • Light-headedness  
  • Dizziness  
  • Lack of focus

People with severe dehydration have been known to have sunken eyes, lack of tears, sunken fontanels (specifically among infants), irritability, rapid breathing, hypotension, and tachycardia. In the worst-case scenario, severe dehydration can lead to unconsciousness. 

Tips For Preventing Dehydration Symptoms

Ready to go out and enjoy your day in the sun? Follow these tips to help you stay focused and comfortable without getting bothered by the scorching heat. 

Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water 

How should you stay hydrated? Make it a habit to drink water regularly, 8 glasses of water a day, throughout the day. Some people like to carry around a water bottle with the amount of water they want to drink for the day and then try to finish it before bed.

If you are unsure what the ideal amount of water to drink is, you can always refer to a medical professional for a discussion. It will depend on your lifestyle and workplace conditions.

For example, people working in hot environments need to drink more water because they sweat more. 

Make your water taste better

If you don’t like the bland taste of plain water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to savor it. Drop a few slices of lemon into your glass or water bottle. Your drink will be infused with a fragrant citrus flavor.

You can also stay hydrated by drinking fruit and vegetable juices, unsweetened drinks, and diet sodas, but be mindful of the sugar content. Read the carton or bottle labels to monitor the amount of sugar you consume.

Sipping on cooled ginseng tea is a great way to stay hydrated. It has a naturally refreshing flavor and it does not contain caffeine to dehydrate you. Specifically, it helps replenish body fluids and promotes vitality and energy.

Consume more fruits and vegetables

Load up on fruits and vegetables to ensure you stay hydrated. Some fruits and vegetables have higher water content than others.

According to a 2017 paper, Storage Methods for Fruits and Vegetables, fruits with higher water content are:

  • Cantaloupe (93% water)
  • Honeydew melon (93% water)
  • Watermelon (93% water)
  • Citrus fruits (89% water)
  • Peaches (89% water)
  • Oranges (86% water)
  • Apple (84% water)

The same publication also gave a list of vegetables with high water content, including:

  • Tomatoes (94% water)
  • Asparagus (93% water)
  • Spinach (93% water)
  • Cabbage (92% water)
  • Cauliflower (92% water)

Stay indoors when it is too hot 

If an individual is overexposed to the sun and doesn’t rehydrate, the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as sodium and potassium. In severe cases, this can lead to heatstroke.

Stay indoors when it’s too hot and avoid coffee, soda, caffeinated tea, and alcohol, as these beverages can cause dehydration. 

Wear a light layer 

Shouldn’t you be wearing fewer items of clothing when it’s hot? Instead, opt for a light-colored, loose layer of clothing that doesn’t restrict airflow over your skin. Doing this will also protect your skin from burning. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Brandon Yew explains, “On a hot day, you should wear thin-layered and loose clothing to avoid the infliction of the heat and dampness pathogens. This will also significantly reduce or even stop sweating, arresting the further loss of Qi and Yin energies.” 

Another pro tip: choose items made from cotton, linen, rayon, or bamboo with moisture-wicking technology. If your skin becomes dry or irritated due to the heat, consider using an herbal relief supplement to restore internal equilibrium and soothe skin.

What To Do When Dehydration Symptoms Persist

Watermelon has a high water content and can help your child stay hydrated in hot weather.

If you start to feel unwell, even after doing the abovementioned tips, immediately seek medical treatment.

Though treating the early onset of dehydration at home is possible, it should be under a healthcare provider’s guidance. Here are the treatment recommendations:  

  • In children, directions for giving food and fluids will be customized according to the dehydration cause. Therefore, it is essential to consult your child’s healthcare provider.  
  • In mild dehydration, simple rehydration by drinking fluids is recommended. Many sports drinks on the market can restore body fluid level, electrolytes, and salt balance.  
  • In moderate dehydration, it may be necessary to provide intravenous (IV) fluids. Please consult a medical professional for guidance and treatment if you have dehydration symptoms.  
  • Cases of severe dehydration are regarded as medical emergencies. Immediate action must be taken, including hospitalization and administering IV fluids.

Physician Yew states, “TCM can help with post heatstroke recovery through herbal medication, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, tuina massage, and blood-letting. These treatments are formulated carefully by a TCM physician to address the unique body constitution of every individual patient. Hence, it is best to always first consult the TCM physician for a proper assessment.”  

Some TCM herbal formulations that help are:

  • Sheng Mai Yin regenerates lost Qi and Yin energies of the Heart and Lungs and regulates sweating.
  • Xiang Ru San dispels residual Dampness
  • Liu Yi San and Gui Ling Gan Lu Yin have the additional effect of clearing residual Heat on top of Dampness.
  • Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang regenerates lost Qi and Yin energies and dispels Heat and Dampness.

Carry Water With You At All Times

With the heat waves these days, it is time to develop the habit of drinking fluids regularly to stay hydrated. If you are going out, take a bottle of water with you to ensure you fulfill your daily water requirements.

References

  1. BMC Public Health. 2018. Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants’ characteristics.  
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. N.d. Dehydration and Heatstroke
  3. Khan, Dr & Bhat, Sajad & Narayan, Sarath. 2017. Storage Methods for Fruits and Vegetables.  
  4. National Health Service (NHS) UK. Dehydration.  
  5. NPR. 2012. Summer Science: Clothes Keep You Cool, More Or Less

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