Importance of hydration during summer months

Dehydration is a common summer illness.

Hot, humid weather commonly leads to dehydration because the amount of water leaving the body is higher than the amount being taken in.

Treating elderly people who are hospitalized for dehydration costs the medical system about $1.36 billion annually, according to an article in Nutrition and Healthy Aging.

Seniors are at a greater risk of dehydration because body composition changes with age. As we age, our bodies contain less water, partly because our kidneys become less efficient. Some medications can also increase the risk of dehydration because they can act as diuretics.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, persistent dehydration that causes difficulty walking, confusion, rapid heart rate or other more severe symptoms can land seniors in the hospital.

You can lower your risk of dehydration and other heat-related illnesses by staying hydrated. The best way to maintain good hydration is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

Avoid fluids with alcohol or caffeine. Caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee have a slight diuretic effect and should not be counted toward a daily fluid intake goal.

In addition to water, there are many foods high in water content and can help you maintain good hydration. Cucumbers contain 95 percent water and are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. Celery, iceberg lettuce, zucchini, watermelon strawberries and cauliflower are also more than 92 percent water content.

Mild dehydration can lead to feelings of fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems and slower reaction times. Other complications of dehydration include weakness, dizziness and an increased risk of falls.

By the time you feel thirsty, you are already experiencing dehydration. Recognize the symptoms and make an effort to rehydrate sooner. Start each day with a glass of water and establish regular water breaks throughout the day.

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