Summer is here and in some places the temperature has already topped 100 degrees. With the heat comes an increased chance of dehydration. Dehydration is caused by not taking in enough fluids or losing too much water over a short period of time. This can be caused by sweating, diarrhea or vomiting, diabetes, burns, or frequent urination. Most occurrences of dehydration can be treated simply by drinking water, but the more severe cases will require immediate hospitalization and can result in death.

Early Symptoms

The easiest way to tell whether or not you need more fluids is the color of your urine. The darker it is, the more fluids you need to get in your body. Another way to detect a loss of fluids is to pinch the skin on the back of the hand. If it is slow to return to normal, you should increase your fluid intake. Other early signs include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness

Severe Dehydration Symptoms

If you do not increase your fluids, the next stage is severe dehydration. Experts say this is a loss of 10-15 percent of the body’s water. Along with the above signs, severe dehydration symptoms include:

  • Lack of sweating
  • Shriveled and dry skin
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sunken eyes
  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Additional Symptoms in Children

  • A sunken soft spot on the top of their head
  • Dry mouth or tongue
  • Irritable
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diaper for three hours

Ways to Help You Stay Hydrated

Drink a lot of water! It is recommended that women drink approximately 12 cups of water a day and men drink approximately 15 cups. Find innovative ways to get yourself drinking more water.

Replace lost electrolytes by drinking things other than just water. Try skim or low fat milk, smoothies, sports drinks, coconut water, and even tea and coffee. Studies have shown that while coffee is a diuretic, it doesn’t dehydrate you.

Eat more fruit. Watermelon, tomatoes, kiwis, pineapple, citrus fruits, and strawberries contain water. Vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and celery also contain a high content of water. Stay away from the snacks that have very little water such as crackers, pretzels, or chips. Use the in-season fruits to make frozen desserts such as popsicles or an icee. These sweet and cool treats are a perfect way to hydrate yourself during hot summer months.

Serve soup. During the hot summer months, try a vegetable gazpacho which is served cold.

As hard as it might seem to ingest such a large amount of liquid, it is more important that you keep your body hydrated. Your skin will also thank you in later years!