Cool Down Responsibly as the Temperatures Rise
With the Texas Rangers season underway, the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Dean and Deluca Invitational golf tournaments set to tee off in May, and restaurant patios filling up, a cold beer might seem like the perfect way to quench our summertime thirst, but the summer heat should make you think twice before ordering another round.
According to data from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texans drank over 620 million gallons of beer last year, a four percent increase from just five years ago. Consequently, some of the highest levels of consumption were during the summer months – May through August – averaging over 56 million gallons a month.
With the Almanac predicting that May will be warmer and drier than normal in North Texas, it’s easy to see how those numbers can sky rocket.
“I see health issues related to alcohol that span the spectrum, from injuries caused by reckless behavior to chronic conditions caused by years of drinking too much,” said Bradford Commons, director of Emergency Medicine at Texas Health Alliance. “Drinking alcohol causes more than 79,000 deaths a year. It’s the third most common preventable cause of death. That represents a major health threat. This is something we have to help people realize.”
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, speeding up dehydration and affecting the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. If we don’t replace the fluids our body is losing through sweat and urination, severe dehydration can occur, which can become life-threatening if not caught early.
Symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, little or no urination, sunken eyes, rapid breathing and heartbeat, and fever.
Alcohol also raises the body’s blood pressure, increasing the risk of a heat-related illness like heat stroke, especially for people with high blood pressure.
Fainting may be the first sign of heat stroke, but other symptoms include a throbbing headache, dizziness, muscle weakness or cramps, and symptoms similar to severe dehydration.
The American Red Cross has a First Aid app for smart phones and tablets that includes tips and expert advice on the go. So even if you’re out at the lake or enjoy a baseball game, you have access to information that can help you identify heat related illness symptoms or what do in case of an emergency.
To stave off dehydration while enjoying outdoor activities, the formula is simple: for every ounce of beer, follow it with an equal amount of water. Also make sure you’re hydrated before even leaving the house.
Knowing the warning signs of dehydration and heat stroke, and pacing yourself, will help ensure that cooling off with a cold one won’t lead to chilling summer fun.
If alcohol has become a problem in your life, the Texas Health Behavioral Health substance abuse treatment program can help. Call 682-236-6023 or email THRBehavioralHealth@texashealth.org for a complimentary assessment.