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Stay hydrated in extreme heat conditions

August 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
With triple-digit temperatures, doctors say it's easy to become dehydrated without even realizing it. But when a person becomes even mildly dehydrated, it can quickly set off a whole host of health problems. Protect yourself and your family from these extreme temperatures.

It may seem simple, but people often forget to stay hydrated in extreme-heat conditions like this week in Southern California.

Even surrounded by tons of water, at a public pool for example, dehydration remains a serious health danger.

"Being in water does not mean that the water is actually hydrating your body," said Dr. Lawrence Wells, emergency medicine specialist, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. "You have to specifically take in water."

Doctors are concerned about children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. But dehydration can strike healthy, fit people too.

"It's extremely easy. Even young, healthy individuals, they think, 'I'm young, I'm not going to get dehydrated,'" said Dr. Wells. "But even with the slightest amount of activity people can become extremely dehydrated."

Signs of dehydration:

- Increased thirst

- Dry mouth

- Fatigue

- Decrease in or deeper-colored urine

- Headache or dizziness

- Few or no tears or sweat

"It may be counter-intuitive to people that, 'Well I'm not sweating, so I couldn't be that hot.' But actually that's a big danger sign," said Dr. Wells.

Doctors remind the public: Dehydration can be an irreversible process.

"It's possible, and if you don't have access to help, you may need to call 911 at some point, because you can die from dehydration," said Dr. Wells.

What should you drink? Stay away from caffeine. Sports drinks with electrolytes are better than water. Dr. Wells says any hydration will do.


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