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University of South Florida

Hydration II – What to Drink and Why?

From our first blog, Hydration I – Key Questions, we discussed the importance of personal fitness assessment and Florida’s weather conditions.  Next, we should ask ourselves questions that delve into a better understanding of our hydration choices and the symptoms of extreme heat.

Dr. Trey Remaley of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at USF Health said, “one of the biggest key factors to reduce your risk of heat related illness, is to maintain appropriate prehydration. Maintaining good water intake days before your outdoor activity will help reduce your risk. However, you will still need to maintain appropriate replenishment of your hydration while exercising.”

Drink Before You Feel Thirsty

If you are planning a more moderate work out, just plan on hydrating with water.  Most importantly, if you are out in the elements, don’t wait to become thirsty.   Thirst is actually a symptom of dehydration. Plus being hydrated at the start will give you a better workout and make your internal cooling system run more efficiently.

When to Drink Sports Drinks

For athletes who are in it to win it with high-intensity exercise in prime sun hours, sports drinks will replenish much-needed fluids and electrolytes.  We lose electrolytes when we sweat, specifically sodium, chloride, and potassium, which can contribute to muscle cramping.  An easy way to measure hydration is to weigh yourself before and after exercising to gauge your fluid loss from perspiration.

Know the Warning Signs – Heat Related Emergencies

Keep a lookout for signs of heat-related illness, especially when temperatures and humidity are high.  The most common, minor heat illnesses include heat cramps (or exercise-associated muscle cramps) and heat exhaustion. Heat cramps are often treated with rest, light stretching, and replacing lost fluids and electrolytes.

Heat exhaustion often occurs when someone is unaccustomed to exercising in the heat, leading them to experience symptoms like headache, nausea and fatigue.  Moving the person to a shaded or cool area and replacing lost fluids and electrolytes usually helps them improve rather quickly.

“The most serious heat-related illness, exertional heat stroke, can be deadly if the person is not cooled right away.  Early symptoms of heat stroke include acting out of sorts, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and fatigue.  Because heat stroke occurs when someone’s body temperature is dangerously elevated, the best treatment is placing them in a tub of ice-cold water and calling 911,” Dr. Remaley said.

For more information on heat illness prevention and heat safety, please reference this National Athletic Trainers’ Association handout on heat illness.

As part of National Athletic Training Month, we would like to acknowledge the amazing efforts of USF Health’s SMART Institute, which is proud to provide certified athletic trainers to local high school sports programs throughout Hillsborough County. Dr. Rebecca Lopez, Program Director, Post Professional Athletic Training Program for USF Health collaborated with Dr. Remaley to develop this informative blog series on hydration.

Written By: Kathleen Rogers

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