Wallet? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Phone and charger? Check.
When getting ready to head out for a full day in the sun, all those things can be important, but it’s also important to have a plan for water intake. A water bottle is a good start, but will it keep you hydrated all day? If you’re going to a music festival, will they let you in with a bottle? Do they have refilling stations or should you bring extra money for bottled water at the event?
When it comes to staying hydrated while out in the heat, Alexis Tingan, MD, a primary care sports medicine fellow, says a little common sense goes a long way.
“Simply checking the weather before heading out to an all-day event is a good preventative start to the day,” he said. “You should be particularly focused on staying well hydrated on days that are predicted to be very hot and humid.”
Tingan says a good day out in the elements should also starts with a healthy breakfast. Each day, we receive about 20 percent of our hydration through the food we eat, so it’s important to think carefully about diet. He says a meal of grains and fruits is a great start. Fruits are an excellent source of hydration.
Just how much water does one need? There’s no one answer because it depends on many factors. Heat and humidity need to be taken into consideration since sweat is a major cause of fluid loss and people with more body mass simply need more water than others with less. Diets also matter because of the fact stated above, up to 20 percent of our daily water intake can come from our food.
Tingan says the Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups of water a day for men and nine cups for women. After taking into account water gained from eating throughout the day, he suggests the old recommendation of eight cups per day is not a bad rule of thumb. However, hotter days, and the sweating they bring, mean more water may be needed.
Age is also a concern when talking about proper hydration. The sensation of thirst dulls as we age and our kidneys and bladders are not as strong as they once were.
Those heading to the Made in America Music Festival next month should keep an eye on alcohol intake. Tingan said the alcohol suppresses a hormone which helps the body to retain water. Moderation is key to make sure retaining water is being retained.
“The best advice is to consume water with alcohol,” Tingan said. “For every alcoholic drink out in the heat and humidity, drink a glass of water to stay well hydrated.”
Detecting hydration should come as natural. Thirst is the first sign that a body needs more water. That’s easy, drink more water. If thirst is ignored, one may feel a slight headache, sluggish, and urine will appear a dark yellowish color. Tingan says for mild cases of dehydration, some water and time in the shade is all that’s needed.
However, if it progresses, confusion, altered mental state, or vomiting can ensue – which is a sign that medical help is needed right away.
“The bottom line is that it never hurts to seek medical help if you think someone may need it because of dehydration,” Tingan said.
A new study cautions against over-hydration as well, warning athletes to not force themselves to drink water when they aren’t thirsty. In fact, the New York Times reports, drinking too much water can cause serious problems of its own. In extreme cases, chugging enormous amounts of water can be fatal. At least four high school football players have died this way since 2008, the report said. Like Tingan, the article suggests to use common sense when gauging when and how much water one should be drinking.
For the two big outdoor events coming up in Philadelphia, the Made in America festival and Pope Francis’ visit, planning is key. Made in America will have free filtered water stations throughout, but remember to take advantage, especially if alcohol enters the picture (the event is sponsored by Budweiser after all).
The papal mass on Sept. 29 will also have free water stations throughout, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper also reports that water bottles are expected to be allowed into the secure area was well.
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Davide Guglielmo