Wellbeing Bulletin - Dehydration in Hot Conditions
Although summer for most of us is a happy and enjoyable time, the hotter temperatures can expose us to some health risks. This is due to the fact that we have more exposure to the sun as we are more likely to be participating in outdoor activities and overexerting ourselves in hot temperatures.
Water makes up two-thirds of our body and is routinely lost through breathing, sweating, urinating and passing stools. During the summer months, especially in outdoor jobs involving physical activity, water loss increases, making good hydration crucial - without it, the body can’t regulate and maintain its functions.
Am I Dehydrated?
As we lose water our skin becomes less elastic. If you want to check your level of dehydration, lightly pinch the back of your hand for 3 seconds. When released It should return to a normal shape immediately - if it takes longer it is an indication you could be dehydrated.
Alternatively, next time you go to the toilet, take note of the colour of your urine and compare it with this chart.
If the colour of your urine is between four and six, your body is showing early signs of dehydration.
Other signs of dehydration are
• Dark yellow/strong-smelling urine
• Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
• Feeling tired
• A dry mouth, lips and eyes
• Bloodshot eyes
• Passing small amounts of urine
• Urinating fewer than 4 times a day
Dehydration can happen more easily if you have
• Vomiting or diarrhoea
• Been in the sun too long (heatstroke)
• Drunk too much alcohol
• Sweat too much after exercising
• A high temperature of 38ºC or more
• Been taking medicines that make you urinate more (diuretics)
Tips for Staying Hydrated
• Keep a reusable water bottle with you
• Flavour your water with fruit
• Eat your water (e.g. fruits and vegetables)
• Drink plenty of fluids (water is best)
• Avoid heavy, strenuous activity in hot weather where possible
• Dress for the temperature
• Avoid alcohol and caffeine
• Drink before you eat
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
UV light is emitted by the sun and provides several health benefits, such as raising vitamin D levels, boosting mood and improving some skin conditions. However, overexposure or inadequate protection from clothing or sunscreen can increase the risk of sunburn, premature ageing of the skin and, ultimately, skin cancer.
The 5S Principles for UV Protection
• Slip on protective clothing
• Slop on broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 and above
• Slap on a hat
• Slide on sun shades
• Seek shade
The UV Index
Checking the UV index can be a useful way to plan your outdoor activities to reduce UV exposure.