BY PAMELA LUTRELL
When Ben headed out for a run at Brackenridge Park, he never imagined the day would end in an emergency room. But not far down the path, he began to experience difficulty breathing and
pressure in his chest, which brought an immediate fear of a heart attack.
His family was surprised but relieved that these symptoms were results of dehydration. Ben needed to drink more water. “Dehydration can lead to many symptoms — fatigue, cramps, dizziness, diarrhea, vision issues, nausea, vomiting. Increased heart rate and palpitations have all been associated with it,” says Shawn Mollica, PA of the Deerwood Family Practice.
The heat and humidity of San Antonio are reasons residents should keep hydration at the forefront of their concerns. The Mayo Clinic reports those at greatest risk of dehydration live in hot and humid climates, are infants and children, older adults, endurance athletes, and those with chronic illnesses. According to the Mayo Clinic, “When it’s hot and humid, your risk of dehydration and heat illness increases. That’s because when the air is humid, sweat can’t evaporate and cool you as quickly as it normally does, and this can lead to an increased body temperature and the need for more fluids.”
Dr. Allen Alavarez, a bariatric surgeon at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital in Alamo Heights, said, “ San Antonio residents are diligent, and we love to spend time outside, where the heat can easily dehydrate the body fairly quickly if one is not careful with their hydration. San Antonio hosts many running events like the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon throughout the year, and not keeping up with proper hydration may lead to electrolyte imbalances that may need hospitalization.”
Alvarez said there are five things to keep in mind about hydration:
- Hydration is a mindset, so set intentional reminders to drink water throughout the day. You may even download an app to your phone that will text you when it’s time to drink water.
- Avoid sugar. Sugar draws water out of your cells, causing them to be metabolically sluggish and making you feel sick with fatigue.
- Avoid stimulants like energy drinks that not only dehydrate the cells in your body but then require almost double the amount of water in order to replenish their metabolic functions.
- Avoid snacking. Food is mostly made up of water, so many times we eat because we are unknowingly thirsty. So staying hydrated throughout the day is a tremendous benefit in weight management
5. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, making you lose water from the body. So compensate by doubling your water intake if indulging in these types
Jan Tilley, president of JTA Wellness, said, “It is important to stay hydrated because often we may mistake hunger for thirst, and this could lead to senseless overeating when really all we need is a glass of water.”
Tilley writes in a paper on the importance of hydration, “When as little as 2 percent of your body weight is lost through dehydration, physical and cognitive performance can be affected. Water, sometimes called the forgotten nutrient, is an absolute requirement for metabolism – it transports nutrients and helps remove waste.
“It is important to understand your total body weight is 75 percent water, which means you need to make sure you are responsibly hydrating, especially during physical activity,” said Tilley. She cautions other signs of dehydration include dry mouth, weak/low energy, headaches, irritability and dark urine.
Understanding the symptoms plus the importance of water may save many residents from aging early, serious health issues and unnecessary trips to the emergency room.