It's a warm Sunday afternoon and you toss the volleyball back and forth as the sun feels hotter and hotter on your bare feet. Even as your skin takes on a shiny glow, you feel tired, thirsty and sweaty. Drink now or you could put yourself in danger.
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids and blood salts like potassium and sodium than you take in. Vital organs can't function without a certain minimum of water and salt. The blood turns the consistency of thick catsup, forcing the heart to pump that much harder.
Even a 1 percent loss of fluid can affect athletic performance. At 5 percent, you'll experience problems with concentration, drowsiness, vomiting, impatience and headaches. At 7 percent, there's a good chance of collapsing. A 15 percent loss of fluid requires hospitalization to restore a normal balance of fluids and electrolytes.
To avoid such problems, be alert for these warning signs:
Solution: Drink several glasses of water immediately. Some conditioned athletes can rebound quickly. If you have any other medical problems or if your pulse is erratic, see a doctor as quickly as possible.
Facts on food, fluids and perspiration
When you sweat through a workout, you can lose up to 2.5 liters an hour. Make sure you replace it with fluids that will restore your momentum.
How to cope with sweat
Some people avoid exercise because sweat causes an irritating rash in all the friction areas: neck, armpits, inner thighs. Thousands of people suffer from prickly heat, called miliaria, an obstruction of the sweat ducts.
What can you do? Dr. Tor Shwayder, director of pediatric dermatology at Henry Ford Health System, suggests:
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