Summer holidays draw a pretty picture of family outings, relaxing by the poolside, enjoying at a beach and playing sports with friends. Unfortunately, spending too much time in the sun also has its drawbacks. If you are not cautious while staying outdoors, excessive exposure to the sun can result in getting sunburn, dehydration, cramps, heat exhaustion, fainting or in extreme cases heat stroke which is a medical emergency.

The most common condition that people suffer from in summer is dehydration, wherein the human body loses significant amount of water along with minerals and electrolytes. Rigorous exercise or any illness such as fever, loose motions or vomiting can aggravate dehydration. Dehydration can occur in people of all ages, but young children, babies and older adults are more prone to it.

It is often easy to miss the signs of dehydration, so here are the most common symptoms that one can look out for.

Dehydration symptoms

* Increased thirst
* Dry mouth
* Weakness
* Headaches
* Dizziness
* Muscle cramps
* Dry and cracked lips
* Irritability
* Dark coloured urine
* In severe hydration, fainting, confusion or altered consciousness

If you are alert and watch out for these symptoms, you will be able to remedy the situation quite effectively. Along with that, arm yourself with these precautionary tips suggested by Dr. SantoshDatar, Consultant Doctor and Medical Director at Ziqitza Health Care Ltd that will keep you protected against dehydration.

Drink plenty of water and fluids

The best way to avoid dehydration is, in fact, to stay hydrated. You should drink plenty of water throughout the day, but this can also be substituted with coconut water, lemon water, fresh buttermilk, clear soupor fruit juices (without sugar) once in a while to keep up your electrolyte levels. Sweetened fruit juices and cold drinks should be avoided.

Wear appropriate clothing

Loose-fitting, light weight, light-coloured cotton clothes are ideal to be worn during this season. Dark colours absorb more heat, which in turn, will increase your body temperature, while tight clothes will absorb the sweat, instead of letting it evaporate from your body. Sweating is body’s natural cooling system, and it is best to wear airy clothing which allows your body to keep cool naturally.

Protection from direct exposure to sunlight

Avoid going outdoors during midday if possible. If you have to go, walk in the shades, wear wide brim hats, sunglasses or use an umbrella. Use a sunscreen with SPF higher than 15 to avoid getting sunburns. If your day plans include a visit to the pool or a beach, use a water resistant one with higher SPF rating. Just as you use sunscreen for the skin, use a lip balm with SPF protection to block out the sunrays.

Avoid diuretics

Diuretics are substances or foods that increase the production of urine, which in turn results in loss of fluids from the body. Alcohol and caffeine containing beverages like coffee, cola have diuretic properties and should be avoided. Avoid tobacco and smoking.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, oranges, grapes and banana are rich in water content, essential minerals, and electrolytes. Consume them as much as you can, through the day, for natural hydration. Additionally, avoid very spicy, oilyand pungent foods as they can increase acidity.

Avoid heavy workouts

Heavy workoutscan cause copious amount of sweating, which leads to dehydration.If you are planning a workout, do it indoors if possible and drink plenty of water before it. You can carry a water bottle with you and take sips regularly.

Memorise all emergency service numbers

In case the situation worsens one needs to immediately call for professional helpas time is of utmost essence. It is therefore necessary for all people, including children and the elderly, to memorize the relevant EMS numbers, like 102/108 for emergency medical aid. These may vary from state to state and region to region.

(Author Manish Sacheti is CFO, Ziqitza Health Care Limited)