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Raise Your Glass To Summer

And make friends with a water bottle so you'll be sure to consume enough fluids to stay hydrated.

Whether we’re gardening in the hot sun, training for the next big race or even just sunbathing, the mercury rising puts us all at greater risk for getting dehydrated.

We lose water simply breathing, said Dr. Alice Stollenwerk Petrulis, an internal medicine physician aton Center Ridge Road. And water is essential for every cell, tissue and organ in our body.

“The reason we drink is because we lose fluids every day; you lose it when you urinate, sweat or vomit,” Petrulis said. “Every day you lose about 600 cc’s (cubic centimeters) which is about 20 ounces just from breathing. And when you feel thirsty, you are experiencing one of the first early signs of dehydration.”

This thirst mechanism, which is lacking in young children and diminishes as we age, alerts us to the need for liquids.

“During the summertime when it’s hot out we tend to drink more because we are thirstier because our bodies are trying to keep us from getting dehydrated,” she said. “If you are going to be outside and you’re going to be in the heat, you are going to lose fluid through your skin because your body is trying to cool down the temperature through sweating. You need to replace that.”

What’s the best thing to drink? Water for the most part for regular losses is adequate, Petrulis said.

“If you are exercising strenuously you are going to need a little salt and some electrolytes. That’s actually why they made drinks like Gatorade initially to replace the electrolytes that one looses when one sweats,” she said. By strenuous exercise, she means running, lifting weights and other intense activities that raise the heart rate significantly. You also may need to gulp down some Gatorade after several hours of gardening.

If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.

“It’s always tempting to drink alcohol as a form of fluid replacement but alcohol -- and caffeine for instance -- are weak diuretics,” she said. “If you are only replacing with those types of fluids you’re going to compound the problem by losing fluid when you are trying to replace it.”

Symptoms of dehydration can include little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual, dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, muscle cramps, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, and feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

“Watching your urine color isn’t a bad idea,” Petrulis said. “You probably notice when you get up in the morning, your urine tends to be darker. That’s because your kidneys have been concentrating your urine all night so you don’t have to get up and go to the bathroom all the time. When you have been drinking a lot of fluids, it’s pretty clear. The more color you have you can interpret that as an early sign of getting dehydrated.”

Everyone’s heard the six to eight glasses of water a day recommendation, but different people need different amount, especially when you take into account activity level and diet. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty.

Petrulis offered this equation: one ounce for every two pounds of your body weight every day which translates to 75 ounces if you weigh 150 pounds.

Tips for keeping hydrated this summer:

Keep water at your side throughout the day in either plastic or reusable bottle. When you have it nearby you’ll drink it.

For little ones, offer lots of drinks and Popsicles -- utterly irresistible when it's hot out.

If water sounds too boring, spice it you with a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber.

You can eat your water, too. Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, tomatoes and lettuce are high in water content and count toward your daily water intake.

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