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Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00

Back to Basics – Staying Cool

 It’s hot!  Every year around this time it gets really hot, not just regular hot, but “Oh mein I kyan tek it no more” level of “heatedness”.  As a matter of fact, I sat here to write a health article and I had a bit of a difficult time concentrating because all I could think about was, it’s hot.  So let us address the heat.

First off, staying cool.  The simple act of staying in a shaded area will help keep you cooler.  On average, the temperature difference between shade and direct sun is 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  If participating in outdoor activities, such as barbecuing, having a simple tent as shade can keep you cooler and comfortable.  If you are outdoors or being mobile, wearing a hat or using an umbrella can also help provide enough shade to reduce the effects of solar radiation (direct heat).  

Another key aspect of dealing with the heat is keeping well hydrated.  During the hotter times of the year the body loses more fluid via sweating.  Sweating is the body’s natural way of trying to cool itself down.  It is vital to replenish lost fluids to prevent dehydration.  A simple way to do this is to keep a bottle of water nearby so you can drink as needed.  Avoid caffeinated beverages as it may increase urine output, thereby increasing loss of fluid.   There are those who do not like drinking water, and I’m not just talking about children.  I knew of several women who, if through the course of the day they drink a full glass of water it’s considered a miracle by their family.   Technically water should have no taste, but the complaint most often voiced is the reason they don’t drink water is because they don’t like the taste.  A simple way to address this is to flavor your water.  You can add a squeeze of lime, orange or some peppermint drops.  I’ve seen people prepare pitchers filled with cucumber and orange slices with shavings of ginger (looks like they are drinking a salad), which helps alter the taste of the water making it palatable and thereby increasing their water consumption. 

For the elderly, water (fluid) consumption can be an issue of concern to family members.  As we get older, the part of the brain that regulates thirst may not function as well as it ideally should.  When the body detects the need for water, that part of the brain sends out a signal to drink water = thirst.  When the thirst regulating unit isn’t working like it should what ends up happening is the body needs water but the person isn’t thirsty.  Imagine your car’s Gas Light and Gas Gauge isn’t working, how will you know when you are running low?   If you are concerned about your (or someone you care about) water intake, the first thing to do is to monitor how much they are getting.  You can purchase the 1.5L bottle of water (which is about 6 glasses of water) and monitor how much remains at the end of the day, if any at all.  

Mild dehydration may present itself with some of the following symptoms; dry mouth, decrease in urine production, concentrated urine production, feeling tired and dizziness.  The simple act of drinking water can reverse these symptoms. 

Keep cool and hydrated and enjoy the summer.

(Dr. Hotchandani can be contacted via Facebook for questions or comments)

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 15:25