Day drinking? Here’s how your body responds to alcohol in summer temperatures
Summer is right around the corner. While a few adult beverages by the pool sounds like a great way to greet the summer heat, you may want to reconsider drinking alcohol in the sun or participate in a different way. This is because alcohol and hotter temperatures combine to dehydrate you, make you feel a bit woozy, and more. Even if you don’t reconsider, we’ll teach you a few tips to make sure the heat and booze don’t wreak havoc on your body and your summer plans.
Overheating and dehydration
As if the sunshine and 80-degree temperatures weren’t enough, drinking alcohol in hot weather can cause your body to overheat faster. Because alcohol is a vasodilator, it causes the blood vessels to dilate. After drinking an alcoholic beverage, the blood flow begins to increase, the heart rate decreases, and the blood pressure drops. Blood vessel dilation causes people’s cheeks to flush and bodies to feel warm when they drink. Although this toastiness may feel nice in the winter time, it can be dangerous in the summer months when you’re already at risk of overheating. You can even be at risk for heat stroke, as heat stroke-related hypotension can be caused by vasodilation. Physical activity in a hot, humid environment while drinking booze can also lead to heat stroke. Symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, and profuse sweating are common signs you may be experiencing heat stroke. To avoid this as much as possible, make sure you’re drinking enough water between sets of drunken beach volleyball.
Speaking of water, people don’t hydrate enough in the summer as it is. When you add drinks to the mix, the alcohol acts as a diuretic and strips the body of its fluids. As a result, the kidneys release more water than normal through urine. So not only are you sweating profusely because its hot out, but you’re also losing precious bodily fluids due to drinking liquor. This leads to dehydration, which can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and more. If you’re severely dehydrated, you’ll be at risk of heat stroke, too.
How to prevent heat-related symptoms
Now, we aren’t asking you to give up summer drinking entirely. There are, however, a few things you can keep in mind so your body doesn’t go into heat stroke mode while at the pool party. First, make sure you’re drinking water. Then, multiply however many cups of water you’re drinking by three. Seriously. “People often say have a drink of water for every alcoholic drink, but in reality, you’re urinating out a third more than the amount of alcohol you’re drinking, so replacing a cup of water for an 8-ounce drink is not the same thing,” says Julia Blank, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Try drinking two or three glasses of water for every beer, glass of wine, or cocktail you drink. Drink water as often as every 30 minutes to stay adequately hydrated.
You might want to consider snacking while drinking, as eating salty foods will also help your body retain its extra fluids. In addition, taking a few breaks to sit in the shade will help your body regulate its temperature and avoid heat stroke. So remember, if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded while drinking out in the sun, get to a shady spot immediately and drink as much water as you can. Doing so will prevent your body from overheating, which could put a nasty end to your summer drinking activities. While day drinking at the pool is fun, it’s a lot more fun without the heat stroke.