Hydrate so you don’t sizzle in the summer

30 May 2013 | Pfc. Brendan Roethel

The summer months in the Lowcountry mean high heat and humidity during long daylight hours. Physical activities become more strenuous and exhausting with every degree and can result in injury when people are negligent.

Without sufficient water intake, many heat injuries can occur. People can become light headed, dizzy, feint, and in a worst case scenario, death can occur.

"Staying hydrated during physical activity is probably obvious to most people, but even the most ardent athletes have been known to push themselves and forget about water intake," said Michael Giese, Ground Safety. "When it comes to water sports, including swimming, some people may not realize that when they are exerting themselves while in a pool or the ocean, they are perspiring."

If people do not remain hydrated they can become dehydrated and left more susceptible to heat related injures such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat injury and consist of painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise and sweating in high heat.

Heat exhaustion is more severe than heat cramps and results from a loss of water and salt in the body. It occurs in conditions of extreme heat and excessive sweating, without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself properly and can progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke, the most severe form of heat illness, occurs when the body is overwhelmed by excessive heat. It is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Believe it or not, drinking too much water can leave the body susceptible to water intoxication, said Giese. Water intoxication is very rare but can be very serious. Water intoxication flushes much needed sodium and electrolytes from the body. Individuals must take care to drink and eat in ways that help maintain electrolyte balance. Symptoms of water intoxication are headaches, personality changes, confusion, irritability, and drowsiness.

Remain safe during the summer time and remember to hydrate regularly. According to medical professionals, the best way to avoid water intoxication and dehydration is to trust your thirst.