Soap Box: Dehydration sucks, mmmkay?

getting healthy

I’m sore, I’m tired, I’m sunburned and I’m migraine filled – but Rockville this weekend was kind of epic. I saw amazing bands that I adore, I rocked out with friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and I loved every moment of it. But it was also hot as a mofo out there and I saw people dropping left and right due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. It averaged about 90 degrees each day of the two day festival, and there was no clouds in the sky.

That means it’s officially summer in Florida, and with that comes my yearly discussion on staying hydrated during the summer months if you work out outdoors.

While I’m not running as much as I used to, I am trying to run 3 times a week outside. Two short runs during the week and bridges on the weekend between all of the classes I’m now taking at the YMCA. (I have my calendar mapped out and everything!) It doesn’t matter if I’m running just a couple of miles or if I am running 10 miles once the warmer temps hit, though. I’m always carrying water with me, and finding water stops along the way to make sure I stay hydrated.

It doesn’t take long for you to get dehydrated, and it’s really easy to get dehydrated when the temps are warm already. The more you sweat, the more liquid your body loses and if you don’t replace it dangerous things can happen. Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be fixed by just cooling your body and drinking fluids (water or sports drinks) but severe dehydration can land you in the hospital and can do serious damage to your body.

Remember back in February when I was in the medical tent for the Daytona Beach Half? Part of that reason was because I was so dehydrated. I hit every water stop but it wasn’t enough. While the meds I was on didn’t help any, my body was starting to shut down because of it. I could have easily ended up in the hospital for a few days.

There are specific signs for dehydration. Here is what Mayo Clinic says about it:

Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • No wet diapers for three hours for infants
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Thirst isn’t always a good indicator of dehydration. Some people tend to confuse hunger with thirst and vice versa, so your best bet is to check out the color of your urine. If it’s dark in color, go grab a cold one. And by cold one, I mean a glass of water, sports drink, or juice. Tea and Alcohol can dehydrate you as well and while I’m always down for a cold glass of Iced Tea or a good beer, you are going to want to pay attention to your hydration before reaching for them.

Dehydration can have serious consequences: heat injuries (cramping, heat exhaustion or heat stroke,) brain swelling, seizures, hypovolemic shock, kidney failure …  even coma and death. It’s not something to mess around with.

As for working out and being hydrated, I follow these rules:

  1. Drink at least 32 ounces of water during the day before I work out. (I work out after work)
  2. Drink a cup of water before I work out, whether it’s a class or running
  3. Drink during my workout! Carry that water bottle when I run, and grab sips (or gulps) of water during the class.
  4. Within an hour post-workout, drink another 16 ounces of water/Kool aid. (yes I drink kool aid. And what?)

Does that sound excessive? Perhaps. But it’s May 2nd, and it’s 90 degrees outside with a humidity of 75%, and a UV Index of 7. That’s hot. Granted, I’m in Florida and things are different here but it’s still nothing to scoff at.

So my advice to you is to really pay attention to your body, carry water with you, and just be smart. I’ve had too many experiences with dehydration and I know that it’s dangerous. I’ve had friends who have had massive heat injuries because they weren’t playing it smart.This weekend at the rock festival, I made a comment to Dreamboat that I hoped people would drink water and Powerade as much as they were drinking beer. There were a lot of people who were being rushed out to the hospital because they didn’t. And that was just standing around listening to awesome bands.

It’s easily preventable, it’s stupid to not pay attention to it. So drink up, and be smart out there.

Source: Mayo Clinic



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