Summer and Hydration
With summer upon us, it’s time to talk about hydration, and the Arizona heat! Our beautiful Arizona desert is known for reaching the triple digits May- September, so it’s important that one hydrate properly in order to tolerate such extreme heat. Although all persons are susceptible to heat-stroke or heat-related illness, patients taking psychotropic medications are at an increased risk, due to the fact that psychiatric medications can increase the body’s sensitivity to heat and the sun. This is called Photosensitivity, which can potentially occur with nearly all psychiatric medications. With that being said, it’s important that one take the proper precautions to remain hydrated and avoid excess sunlight during the Arizona summer months. Signs of sensitivity include: severe sunburns, nausea, vomiting, flushed or pale skin, and confusion or fainting. In order to avoid these issues, make sure that you are drinking enough water! In order to properly hydrate, one should drink half their body weight in ounces, this is just at a minimum. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should be drinking approximately 75 ounces of water throughout the day. Please keep in mind that increased heat, and exposure to sun, will require each individual to drink more than the recommended. The Arizona Department of Health Services suggests the following:
- Wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15. Apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, and reapply as necessary.
- Rest frequently in shady areas so that the body’s temperature has a chance to recover.
- If unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, gradually increase the pace and limit exercise or work time.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing; sunglasses to protect the eyes; and a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade and keep the head cool.
- Take special precaution with infants and young children by dressing them in loose, cool clothing and shading their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella. Protect their feet with shoes.
To Avoid Heat-Related Illness:
- Never leave infants, children or pets inside a parked vehicle.
- Increase fluid intake, regardless of activity level. Don’t wait until thirsty to drink fluids; drink more liquid than one’s thirst indicates.
- Avoid “heat hangover.” Continue to drink fluids even after strenuous activity. This will enable the body to maintain optimum hydration, and help prevent the after effects of heat exposure such as headaches and fatigue.
- Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar as they dehydrate the body.
- Avoid very cold beverages as they cause stomach cramps.
- Limit exercise or outdoor activity between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its peak intensity. If active during this time frame, drink a minimum of 16 to 32 ounces of water each hour.
- If air conditioning is not available, pull the shades over the windows and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms.
- Try a cool shower or bath to help cool off.
- Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, may increase the risk of heat related illness. Consult your medical provider if you have any questions.
Water is boring!
If you are like many that dread drinking water because it’s tasteless, try changing it up with fresh fruit or vegetables! Cutting up slices of oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons, or melons can greatly improve the taste of water. If you aren’t much of a fruit person, cucumbers, mint, or basil, can also provide a very refreshing flavor when placed into your water bottle, even essential oils such as can safely be consumed, and added to water for flavor. Bottom line is, drink the water, and avoid the sugary, and highly caffeinated drinks that can contribute to dehydration.
Dr. Herendira Valdez, PMHNP-BC
Valle del Sol