Stay Hydrated & Avoid Heat-related Illness this Summer

Summer is a time of extreme temperatures that can affect everyone differently. Particularly those with medical conditions, such as Ostomy, paying attention to hydration is critical to maintaining health.

Each year, thousands suffer from heat-related illnesses and over 330 die each year according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those at the highest risk are young children, the elderly, those with certain prescription medicines, the physically ill and those who work outdoors.

Heat-related illnesses happen when one's body cannot properly cool itself with its natural ventilation system - sweating. Often most suffering from heat-related illnesses are because of physical exertion in hot weather, getting abnormal amounts of sun, high humidity - all which can result in the loss of body fluids and dehydration.

During the summer months, you'll want to keep a bottle of water near you throughout the day and take regular sips. If you're sweating and thirsty, your body is already feeling the effects of dehydration, so start drinking water early in the morning before outdoor activity, during outdoor activity, and at least a couple hours afterwards.

Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages when you're in the hot sun. These drinks are diuretic (they encourage you to urinate) and will end up promoting more dehydration in the long run. Sport drinks can help give you back useful carbs and electrolytes, which are lost with sweating.

Exerting yourself in the sun when you're not used it causes more harm than good. Many people who live in areas warm year-round are well acclimated to heat, but those of us in St. Louis and more temperate regions spend all year adjusting to the temperature changes. If you're outside on a regular basis, expect at least a couple weeks for your body to adjust to the hotter temperatures. If you're prone to forgetting to drink water, try to keep a schedule to remind yourself to get plenty of fluids.

If you're outside and you're experiencing fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, or cramping, get indoors or at least the shade and drink some water.

More tips for staying healthy this summer:

1) If possible, take regular breaks in the shade or indoors! A couple hours indoors will help keep your core body temperature down. Air conditioning is best, and if you do not have reliable air conditioning, go shopping indoors or visit a library.

2) Wear plenty of sunblock - Avoid painful sunburns with rub-on or spray-on sunblock of at least SPF15. If you're swimming, boating, or sweating a lot, make sure it's waterproof.

3) Wear UV Protective Eyewear - Ensure it's UV protected - shaded lenses will encourage your eyes to take in more light (and UV) if they do not have a protective coating.

4) Never sit or leave others in cars - Unless the Air Conditioning is running!