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June 12, 2024/Daily Health Stories

Cooling Down During a Heat Wave

A heat wave is making its way through parts of the US. An emergency medicine physician highlights the importance of staying hydrated in extreme temperatures.

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CLEVELAND - It may not officially be summer, but many parts of the country are already seeing soaring temperatures.

And now, a heat wave is expected to hit the east coast, making it even more important to stay hydrated.

“Dehydration is both the beginning and part of the spectrum of heat-related illness. Dehydration means loss of sufficient body fluid levels,” said Christopher Bazzoli, MD, emergency medicine physician for Cleveland Clinic. “And you can think of body water content as, kind of, the motor oil of the body. You need enough of it to make everything function just as it should.”

Dr. Bazzoli said signs of dehydration can include headache, tiredness, dizziness, dry mouth, dark-colored urine, flushed skin and muscle cramps.

In severe cases, it can lead to heatstroke, kidney failure or even death.

Anyone can get dehydrated, but children and the elderly tend to be more vulnerable.

Dr. Bazzoli said when a person sweats from the heat, they’re losing more than just water.

They’re also losing electrolytes and minerals, which are needed for our nervous system, heart and muscles.

“If you're starting to feel thirsty, you're already probably about a liter or so dehydrated and behind. Thirst is one of our first signals to trigger us that we need to try to catch up,” he said. “And if you're dehydrated in that rehydration process, trying to get to a cooler, shaded area and out of the heat will help.”

He said it’s best to drink mostly water to stay hydrated, with some rehydration drinks to supplement.

You should also avoid sugary juice drinks, sodas, coffee and tea.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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