Staying hydrated in the heat, tips for water intake

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The dog days of summer are officially over but if you went outside at all this week, you couldn't tell.

The high 90's and humidity are sticking around into Labor Day Weekend as well so local doctors are stressing the importance of staying hydrated.

A lot of factors determine how well you stay hydrated.

"Higher humidities, higher ambient temperatures, increased exertion, body weight and age," Dr. Shane Speights with St. Bernards Medical Center explained.

Speights said because your body is made up of 70% water, it's highly important to maintain a regular intake.

"In general, you lose about 2 liters of water in a sedentary lifestyle in a normal, temperature controlled atmosphere," he said.

Two liters is the same as four regular sized water bottles, each are 500mL. If you factor in working, or even being outside on a hot, humid day though, you need to increase your intake.

"You really need to be drinking a bottle of water a couple hours before you go out, every thirty minutes while you're outside and when you come back in from the heat," Speights advised.

Speights said those who work outside on a daily basis become accustomed to the higher heat and humidity

"The body kind of knows, it knows you're in a different environment and can kinda hang onto some of that fluid."

However, if you're not acclimated, your body doesn't react the same.

"Those weekend warriors are at highest risk of heat related illness or dehydration complications. The ones who kind of work in a normal temperature throughout the week and then decide 'ah, I'm gonna work on the garden this weekend or I'm gonna get that yard mowed or weed-eated,' Speights said. "Those individuals, unfortunately when they get out there, they may not be able to sweat effectively enough to get rid of the heat."

Especially if you drink caffeinated drinks. Coffee, tea and soda dehydrate you, making it worse.

Speights said Gatorade is okay...but isn't really designated for everyone. He said it's mostly for athletes and those out doing high-intensity work in the heat.

"Those individuals, particularly, need that kind of compound," he explained. "In general? You don't really need the sugars. For the average person outside, water's the answer, you don't have to have Gatorade."

If it's the taste of water you can't get on board with, Speights said adding those flavor packets is okay to do.

He also said if you wait up until you're thirsty, you've waited too long. Drinking throughout the day is your best bet.

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