H2O Wellness

Why is proper hydration important? One needs to have sufficient fluids in their body to maintain proper body temperature. Your body uses fluid in your bloodstream to cool itself when it gets hot, your body cannot correctly cool itself, and you run the risk of overheating and suffering a heat related illness.

Signs and symptoms of three major heat illnesses are:

Heat Cramps (muscle spasms) - painful, sudden spasms of muscles that usually occur after work, at night or while relaxing.

Heat Exhaustion - headache, dizziness, heavy (profuse) sweating, intense thirst, fatigue, loss of coordination, nausea, impaired judgment, loss of appetite, hyperventilation, tingling in hands or feet, anxiety, cool moist skin, weak and rapid pulse (120-200 bpm), or low to normal blood pressure.

Heat Stroke - can be deadly. High body temperature (103 and above), absence of sweating, hot, red or flushed dry skin, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, constricted pupils, any signs/symptoms of heat exhaustion, seizure or convulsions, fainting, collapse or unconsciousness.

How can dehydration be prevented? Condition yourself to working in hot environments. Adjust over a few days to the workload. Drink lots of fluids, especially electrolyte drinks like Gatorade. Avoid alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Cold fluids are usually easier to drink. Get enough rest and sleep. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day. For example, 150 lb. person would need to drink at least 75 ounces of fluids a day. Eat at least 5-6 servings of fruit per day. Bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits are especially good.

If a co-worker becomes overheated you should:

  • Offer cool fluids such as water and/or electrolyte drinks
  • Provide the person a cool shaded area to rest, with a fan
  • Remove excess clothing that is trapping heat near the body
  • Watch for signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke and call emergency medical personnel if needed

Note: Portions of “H2O Wellness” courtesy of Great Plains Regional Medical Center “Wellness Works” program.