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Archive for Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Keep water flowing during heat

June 29, 2005

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With a wet beginning to the baseball and softball season, including a stint of eight days of rain in a 12-day span, Lawrence teams have been competing against Mother Nature to play their games.

Now that the dog days of summer have arrived, plants aren't the only living creatures in need of water. Players are, too.

Area leagues typically begin evening games at 6 p.m. before the heat has subsided. This doesn't even take into account the double- or triple-headers teams play during weekend tournaments.

Losing fluids from excessive sweating that occurs while being active in the intense heat can trigger serious medical problems such as dehydration. To prevent this, Lawrence Memorial Hospital registered nurse supervisor Steve Gutierrez recommends making sure players are continually putting fluids back in their system as they are sweating them out.

"Keep them drinking," Gutierrez said.

He recommends active children to drink at least eight glasses each day - the same goes for adults.

With dozens of sports drinks and other beverages on the market, which should a player pick up from the concession stand before a game to help them best hydrated?

Balancing sports drinks with water provides the best option, Gutierrez said.

"If you drink 10 ounces of Gatorade, follow it up with 10 ounces of water," he said.

Sports drinks, like Gatorade, are too high in sodium and sugars to drink on their own, but these drinks are necessary to help to replace electrolytes such as salt and potassium. One error people sometimes make is over-hydration from drinking too much water. An excess of water drains the body of vital nutrients.

"You want to find a solution that is close to your body's composition," he said.

While in the sun, drinking carbonated soft drinks, especially those with caffeine in them, is not a good way to stay hydrated because of the high amount of sugar in these drinks. Caffeine also has a tendency to cause dehydration, which makes such beverages even worse.

Watching for warning signs early on can prevent a trip to the hospital.

If a player is flush, lethargic or less spunky than usual, Gutierrez said they might be suffering from dehydration and he recommended checking to see how much water they have had.

Drinking a combination of sports drinks and water will help players who are going to be in the heat for long periods stay hydrated and also continue to perform at a high level.

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