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A Dangerous Thirst for Summer Sports

Lack of liquids can cause heat-related health problems

THURSDAY, July 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- One of the most common mistakes made by summer sports enthusiasts is a failure to get enough fluids, and the price can be heat illness.

When you sweat excessively from either working out in the heat or simply being out in the heat too long, extra fluid intake is essential so the body's thermoregulation system can keep you cool, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says.

If the body is overheated, there's an increased demand for blood volume from the brain, skin and muscles. But without enough fluids, dehydration occurs, along with the risk for potentially serious heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Many people don't realize just how much fluid intake is necessary when exercising in the heat. If you're participating in an activity such as backpacking, for instance, you should be prepared to drink at least three to four quarts of water over the course of a day, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Even during that tennis game in the hot sun, make sure to take drinks of water at every possible break, rather than hitting the water fountain in the middle of the game. That's because the body absorbs fluids best in small amounts, rather than in large doses.

And make sure to drink before the game, when you may not even be thirsty. Experts say thirst is actually the first sign of dehydration. So by the time you're thirsty, you're already low on fluids.

More information

Here is more helpful information on the risk of heat injury during sports from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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