Muscle Cramps and Other Signs of Dehydration: Why You Should Stay Hydrated

The people who treat climate change cynically should be getting a wake-up call from the heat waves of 2022. In late July, Reuters reported “brutal heat waves” that gripped Europe and the US and may reach China later in the year. The heat waves leave a trail of damage. With temperatures rising above 104 degrees Fahrenheit in some places, the heat waves have caused fatalities and destroyed property. As summer progresses with the possibility of further heat waves, how are extreme temperatures likely to affect you, and what safety precautions should you take? Below are some signs of dehydration and what you can do about it.

Warning Signs of Heat Exposure

A day out in the summer sunshine could get catastrophic if you don’t take proper safety precautions. According to Julian Bailes, MD, of Northshore University, we should be cautious of heat strokes as they are life-threatening emergencies.

Exposure to severe heat could cause several signs of exhaustion. First, your body’s reaction to the dehydration that heat exposure causes could become evident through muscle cramps. Heat exposure causes sweating, leading to loss of water and vital minerals such as salt and potassium, hence the cramps.

Other Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a vast list of signs and symptoms to watch out for, including:

  • Body temperatures rising above 103 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Heavy sweating

How to Deal with Heat-Related Illness

While heat exposure could cause discomfort and illness, the good news is that the illnesses are preventable.

Should you experience heavy sweating as a result of exerting exercises or other physical activities, the first thing you need to do is stop the activity. And if your muscles are cramping due to the activity you’re engaged in; you need to stop and wait for the cramp to go away before resuming. If you’re working in the sun, it’s also recommended that you move out to a cooler place.

Attending to a Person with Heat-Related Illness

You might need to attend to an exercise partner, your child, or other people suffering from heat exposure. To help a person with muscle cramps, gently massage the cramp and stretch the affected muscle. If the cramped muscle is sore or tender, consider applying ice.

Use first-aid treatments such as:

  • Moving the person to a cool place
  • Removing excess clothing
  • Lowering the temperature by placing wet clothes or ice bags on the groin or armpit

When to Call For Emergency Help

As already noted, heat stroke is life-threatening. While you could help by administering first-aid, you must call 911 or your doctor if you’re dealing with a person whose body temperature has risen to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

You should also consult emergency services when dealing with children, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions. Stanford Medicine recommends you consult your doctor before exposing your children to areas or activities that could cause heat-related illnesses.

Why You Should Observe Proper Hydration

To avoid dehydration and stay adequately hydrated, it’s recommended that men should take 16 cups of water while women should take 11 cups daily. Hydration helps regulate body temperature and is especially important when you’re out in the sun and when you’re engaged in physical activities. Moreover, proper hydration helps deliver nutrients to the body, among other benefits.

Drinking clean water can meet the hydration our bodies require, but consuming juicy fruits and veggies can also help. It’s also important to remember that drinks such as coffee and sweetened beverages could cause dehydration.

For more information on proper hydration, please contact us at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab today!