Since we seem to be stuck in a never ending summer, it was suggested to me that I give some information about staying hydrated. The hydration status of a person refers to body water balance. Water or fluid has many positive effects on the body, including lowering the heart rate, keeping a lower core temperature during exercise and assisting with proper mental functioning. Dehydration occurs when people don’t have enough fluid in their bodies. It can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, diabetes, diuretic medications, high fever or excessive sweating. Though dehydration is a serious problem, it can easily be prevented by simply drinking enough water. Dehydration is ranked among the top ten reasons for Medicare hospitalizations. When adequate fluids are consumed, there is a significant reduction in confusion. The ability to feel thirst lessens with age, so seniors especially need to be aware of proper hydration. In the aging process, bodies begin losing muscle and gaining fat. Muscle holds water but fat does not, so as a person ages, body water decreases. For optimal performance, access to fluids is especially important during exercise. In one study, running speeds decreased by 6 to 7 percent when the athlete was dehydrated. Consider these tips to prevent dehydration. Drink at least eight cups of water a day. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. By this time you are already dehydrated. Drink by schedule, not by thirst. Carry a water bottle and drink from it regularly. Keep a full water bottle in the refrigerator door and drink from it every time you open the refrigerator. Your kids should be drinking all day during this heat, as they are more vulnerable to dehydration just like older adults are. Try to keep them (and yourself) drinking water, milk, and 100% fruit juices- but if they are refusing these, give them any decaffeinated beverage they will drink just to keep them hydrated if they are outside or exercising at all. I find if I give Brooke water in a bottle that you can squeeze she thinks it’s fun, so you might try that. Plus the ice and water in my refrigerator door helps too. She does make messes so I try to send her on the back porch with her water when possible, but water cleans up easily and at least I know she’s drinking it while she’s playing!Drink extra amounts in extreme heat (like every day lately) to replace water lost from sweating. If you are not active or a moderate exerciser, water is sufficient for hydration. If you are exercising strenuously, sodium (salt) replacement is necessary. If you consume enough sodium at a meal prior to exercising, sodium rehydration beverages are generally not necessary. If you exercise daily, be sure to drink plenty with meals. Drink 16 ounces 2 hours before exercise, drink 8 to 16 ounces 15 minutes before the activity, then drink at least 4 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes during the activity. After exercise, drink 24 ounces. Do not replace water with alcohol or caffeinated drinks. If you work outside in this heat, just fill up a big water jug and drink ALL DAY, every chance you get! If you don’t like water, use the Gatorade-type powders and make them weaker than the directions call for. (And if you don’t like that, do the same with another drink powder , like Kool-Aid types or Crystal Light-types.) If you are not hydrated, you will be grouchy and not performing your best- physically or mentally! Know the symptoms of dehydration. These include thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, feeling of blacking out when sitting up or standing, confusion, muscle weakness or cramps, sunken eyes, headache and low blood pressure. If you feel any of these symptoms are becoming life threatening, go to the emergency room or contact your physician immediately.