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Prevent dehydration during the dog days of summer A person’s desire to be outdoors can sometimes be at odds with the outdoors itself. The dead of winter tends to be a time of year when people know to stay indoors, but the dog days of summer can be dangerous as well. Heat-related diseases like dehydration can put lives at risk. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, children and people over the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration. Understanding dehydration and how to prevent it is essential for anyone who plans to spend time outside during the summer. Understanding dehydration and how to prevent it is essential for anyone who plans to spend time outside during the summer. What is dehydration? The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that a dehydrated body does not have enough fluid and electrolytes to work properly. On an average day, the human body needs about three quarts of water. But the USNLM notes that anyone planning to spend time outside in the hot sun needs significantly more water than that to avoid dehydration. What are the signs of dehydration? Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that people experience dehydration differently. However, there are some common symptoms that indicate someone is dehydrated. These symptoms include: • thirst, • less frequent urination, • dry skin, • fatigue, • light-headedness, • dizziness, • confusion, and • dry mouth and mucous membranes, • increased heart rate and breathing. Children who are dehydrated may exhibit additional symptoms, including dry mouth and tongue; no tears and crying; no wet diapers for several hours; sunken abdomen, eyes or cheeks; listlessness; irritabi- lity; and skin that does not flatten when pinched and released. How to prevent dehydration Drinking plenty of fluids when working or playing in the sun is one way to prevent dehydration. Being sure to take in more fluid than you are losing is another way to prevent dehydration. Anyone, and especially people who sweat a lot, should keep a close eye on fluid loss when spending time outdoors in the summer. Sports drinks that help people maintain their electrolyte balance, such as Gatorade, can help prevent dehydration as well. Pedialyte is often recommended for sick infants or children who have experienced vomiting, as it can help restore electrolyte balance that was adversely affected when kids became sick. The solution can be equally effective at restoring electrolyte balance that was thrown off during heat exposure. Dehydration poses a significant health risk at any time of year, but people who spend time out in the summer heat may be especially vulnerable. Limiting time spent outdoors on hot days and keeping a close eye on your fluid intake and fluid levels can help prevent dehydration. The effects of UV rays on the eyes The sun can be both friend and foe. A warm, sunny day can improve mood and increase levels of vitamin D in the body. Exposure to sunlight during the day also can help regulate the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. However, overexposure to the sun can be dangerous as well. Exposure to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time can cause photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn of the eye that can cause pain and redness. Prolonged exposure to UV rays without adequate protection may cause lasting damage, says the American Optometric Association. UV rays come from both the sun itself and tanning beds. HereÕs a look at some of the common UV-induced eye conditions. • Cataracts: A clouding of the eye’s natural lens, or the part of the eye that focuses the light a person sees. • Macular degeneration: UV rays may lead to macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss for older people. The macula is the center portion of the retina, essential for vision. • Pterygium: This is a growth that begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. The growth can eventually impede vision, says the organization Prevent Blindness America. Sunglasses and other protective lenses are essential to keeping the eyes healthy. AOA says that for sunglasses to be effective, they should: • block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation; • screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light; • have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection; and • have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition. In addition, people can wear wide-brimmed hats to protect their eyes from the sun and harmful UV rays. This will shield the eyes and the delicate skin of the face. Learn more about protecting the eyes at www.allaboutvision.com, www.aoa.org, or www.preventblindnessamerica. org.