Hail Hydra(tion)! A local medical expert talks about the devastating effects of not drinking enough water

THE WOODLANDS, TX – Don’t be fooled by the rain forecast; We have at least a few more weeks – if not months – of sweltering hot weather ahead of us. While the thunderstorms can help revitalize our lawns, when it comes to human health, it doesn’t matter how much water is outside.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink…

Woodlands Online contacted Dr. Dominic Maneen, a primary care sports medicine physician at Houston Health & Sports Medicine here in the Woodlands. Maneen studied athletic training at the University of Texas College and completed an internship with the NFL, which paved the way for his passion for sports medicine. He attended medical school in Kansas City, where he simultaneously received his medical degree and his MBA in healthcare leadership. After training in family medicine in Sugar Land, followed by further training in sports medicine in North Carolina, Maneen and his wife – both general practitioners in sports medicine – struck their roots in the Woodlands.

What made you decide to get into this area?
I was diagnosed with a bone tumor in my leg when I was 13, which was my first introduction to the world of sports medicine. I was never a great athlete, but I loved being involved in sports and the camaraderie of being part of a team. I have been fortunate to serve as a student athletic coach at college and have been exposed to all the different facets of sports medicine. I’m a strong believer in the fact that exercise is medicine, so being able to support this lifestyle is a great life purpose.

What is the relationship between heat and humidity? How much water do we need to drink to stay hydrated at certain temperatures?
We’ve all been outside in a Texas summer, so needless to say how miserable it can be. Dehydration is multifactorial so there aren’t the best guidelines as the answer lies on a spectrum. A general rule of thumb for athletes is 500 to 600 ml (17 to 20 fl oz) of water or a sports drink 2 to 3 hours before a workout and 200 to 300 ml (7 to 10 fl oz) of water or a sports drink 10 to 20 minutes before Training.

What are symptoms of dehydration? What can result if we don’t stay hydrated?
Some common symptoms include extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark urine, tiredness, dizziness, and confusion. Don’t count on someone sweating or not sweating. Your thirst isn’t always the best indicator of your fluid status. One of the easiest ways to tell if you’re getting enough fluids is to assess the color of your urine. Light yellow urine indicates you are well hydrated. Honey-colored urine indicates you are dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to many negative consequences, some of the most common illnesses can be urinary and kidney problems, seizures, heat stroke and sometimes even shock.

Which liquids are good for hydration and which are not and why?
The best liquid for most people is plain old water. Cooler water is best, but room temperature water is also helpful. If you exercise at high intensity or for more than 60 minutes, I recommend a sports drink. If you are dehydrated due to an illness like diarrhea or even COVID, Pedialyte is a great drink to drink throughout the day, no matter your age. Beverages labeled as diuretics like alcohol, soda, coffee and tea are drinks I would avoid before and during exercise as they can lead to dehydration.

When you discover someone suffering from dehydration, what can you do (and not do) to help?
If in doubt, please notify a doctor as soon as possible. If you are outside and concerned about dehydration, it is best to move that person to a cool area out of the heat. If the patient is coherent and alert, getting them to drink water is a good first step. It can also be helpful to have a patient lie on their back and elevate their legs over their heart until professional help can arrive. If the situation deteriorates and you need to call 911, do not leave the person alone.

Is dehydration only a “hot weather” problem?
Good question and unfortunately the answer is no. In colder weather, your thirst response is reduced, resulting in less water consumption for most people. At lower temperatures, our bodies have to work harder, even under the weight of heavy clothing, and sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air. So in colder weather please keep the above concepts and same training.

If someone wants to learn more, where should they go?
There are many online resources to learn more about dehydration. If you are new to an environment, or more specifically looking to start a new exercise program, sitting down with your GP is a good first step. If you would like something more in-depth with a sport/exercise specific focus, please go to www.HTXSportsMed.com for more information about my background, my clinic, my services and to schedule an appointment today. At Houston Health & Sports Medicine, we are not surgeons and treat patients as best we can in the least invasive way.

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