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What You Need to Know About Heat-Related Illnesses & Hydration

Chelsea Woods

Proper Hydration Prevents Heat-Related Illnesses: image of water carafe in the sun next to a body of water

60 percent of the human body is made of water — so stay hydrated!

Here in Texas, we are nearly getting into the over-100-degree weather, which means heat-related illnesses will be on the rise and the importance of proper hydration will be high. While it is important to understand how staying hydrated can prevent heat-related illnesses, there are also many other benefits of hydration, so I’m here to share.

Did you know that 43% of heat-related illnesses occur in Texas, California, and Arizona?

These types of illnesses are most likely to occur in July and August when high temperatures in the U.S. reach their peak. Nearly 700 people die in the U.S. each year because of heat-related illnesses, which is a very high number for something that is very much preventable. 

Many people are spending lots of time outdoors right now, especially since lots of places are not open due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which presents an increased chance of heat strokes and other debilitating heat-related illnesses. These illnesses occur when one’s body is unable to control its own temperature, which is where proper hydration comes in. Staying hydrated helps the body maintain appropriate temperature and stay regulated while also making it easier for the heart to circulate blood. Typically, when a person spends large amounts of time outdoors and does not hydrate properly, the heart essentially works in “over-time mode” and pumping blood can be more difficult, leading to very complicated and even life-threatening, heat-related problems.  

How to hydrate:  

The most obvious answer is to drink lots of water. Water is always, but especially during the summer months, the best way to support your body in every way. The benefits of drinking water, aside from helping one avoid heat-related issues, include healthier skin, weight-loss improvement, enhancement of energy levels and brain function, and can also aid in many other common health issues such as issues with bowel functions, kidney stones, and headaches.

You should not wait until you are thirsty, however, to drink water when spending time in the summer sun. It is important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your time outdoors. Many people consider sports drinks to be a more favored alternative to water when outside, which can be a bit tricky. Sports drinks do provide the body with electrolytes that can be helpful during workouts or other physical activities, but they also contain high amounts of sugars and sodium, which would make water the safer and healthier alternative. 

We often hear how important it is that we drink water, but we don’t always hear these facts and statistics of how inadequate hydration can affect our bodies. With many of the diseases around us that we cannot control, we should bring awareness to heat-related illnesses with which we do have complete control over. Combat the summer heat, get outdoors, and stay hydrated! 

 

About the Author

Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family.

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