Put proper hydration on your summer to-do list

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published August 5, 2015


METRO DETROIT — There’s no doubt about it. It’s hot out there.

Got a bottle of water with you? Good. But many don’t think to snag some aqua as they rush out the door each day during the summer, and experts say that could lead to some serious consequences.

Dr. Supak Sookkasikon, with Emcura Urgent Care in Bloomfield Township, said that this time of year, she sees at least one patient each day with symptoms of dehydration.

“Usually it’s not just dehydration, but something else that’s compounded by the weather or something else,” said Sookkasikon. “People might have flu-like symptoms and come in because that’s usually seen during cold season and winter.”

When your body is lacking water, the symptoms can start with something as minor as increased thirst. From there, Sookkasikon said, there could be decreased urine output, unusually dark urine — which she said should normally be pale yellow or clear in color — and a feeling of lightheadedness.

“Your skin is going to be dry, and you’ll really notice that with the lips. You might just get a feeling of being really tired or lethargic,” she explained. “When I get patients who come in with a headache, the first thing I ask is if they’ve been drinking enough water.”

For healthy adults, dehydration can be easily remedied by drinking a few glasses of water before uncomfortable illness ensues. But just as with other ailments, younger children and the elderly could be at higher risk of that dehydration turning into something more dangerous.

“With elderly patients, I really worry about the fall risk,” she said. “That lightheadedness could be more dangerous for them because they could lose their equilibrium more easily and fall and hurt themselves.”

She added that youngsters and older people are often the ones least likely to make others aware they’re thirsty in the first place before dehydration progresses.

Not surprisingly, Sookkasikon said, the best way to prevent loss of water in the body is to keep dumping it in. And by water, that means real H20 – the additives in other beverages could be counterproductive.

“Any kind of noncaffeinated drink should help. (Caffeine) is a diuretic, so it just makes you go to the bathroom more. The same with alcohol,” she said. “Drinking caffeine or alcohol in the hot sun just isn’t a good combination. You need to always be making up the water you’re losing with more water.”

Joan Trute, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator in Grosse Pointe Woods, said there’s more than one way to stay hydrated. Believe it or not, fresh summery snacks like fruits and vegetables pack a mega watery punch.

“Watermelon is really juicy, and so are cucumbers, red and green peppers, juicy fruits like ripe plums, nectarines and peaches; those are all high in water content,” said Trute. “I don’t like to recommend regular iceberg lettuce, either, since it’s not very high in nutrient value at all, but it’s very high in water.”

Trute said that as long as you’re getting enough real water throughout the day, the occasional cup of coffee won’t work against you in your quest to stay hydrated — the key is to keep the sugar low.

“Unless you’re an athlete and you’re running a marathon, stay away from that Gatorade,” she said. “Iced tea is better, and plain iced coffee is OK. Jell-O at room temperature or sugar-free lemonade (are good options), but don’t make any sugary drinks a regular part of your diet.”

Like the good doctor said, Trute believes plain water is best. That’s especially true for women, who she said can become dehydrated more quickly than men.

Sookkasikon said that it might be another thing to lug around all day, but in the summer months, it’s a good idea to carry a water bottle with you. Once you know you’re set on the fluid front, make sure your older loved ones and kiddos are getting their water fix, too.

To learn more about Emcura Urgent Care, visit www.emcura.com or call (248) 885-8211.

To reach Joan Trute, MA, RD, CDE, call (313) 881-9366 or email trutestein@aol.com.