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08-31 Alcohol consumption in the heat

Alcohol consumption in the heat

Although students in high school and early college are under legal drinking age, a substantial proportion chooses to drink alcohol as a way to enhance their summer fun. Unbeknownst to them, alcohol consumption can quickly become dangerous, especially at higher temperatures. Without the proper education, a teenage life might succumb to the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

In addition to more obvious symptoms of intoxication, like impaired coordination and slurred speech, alcoholic beverages are diuretic substances that induce urination. Frequent urination can dehydrate the body and disrupt its ability to regulate internal temperatures. According to Dr. Steve Smith, emergency medicine physician at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, “Alcohol also dilates your blood vessels, as does warm weather, and therefore makes you more susceptible to passing out.”

Another big factor in the potential danger of beer, wine or hard liquor is its heavy association with physical exhaustion. A 2003 United Kingdom study overseeing 114 specialized clinic patients that met criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome observed that two-thirds of the sample patients decreased their alcohol consumption after diagnosis. Specifically, patients explained their behavior change due to fatigue after drinking, increased nausea, heightened hangovers and multiple sleeping problems. Also in, “Fatigue and driving: driver impairment, driver fatigue and driving simulation,” the 1996 experiment tested both young and older drivers after drinking in a controlled environment. Compared to the young and inexperienced, older drivers were more susceptible to alcohol-related fatigue.

Cooling off without alcohol

In a 2013 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend these strategies for future activities in hot weather:

  • During strenuous exercise or physical activity, drink at least 16 to 32 ounces of water or other cool fluids every hour.
  • While beverages with electrolytes replace needed minerals lost through sweat, liquids with large amounts of sugar lead to dehydration similar to alcohol.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing that does not trap in heat; also, people should shield themselves from sun rays by wearing hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Plan activities at cooler times, like the early morning and evening.
  • Practice constraint when being active outside; rest often in shady areas in order to avoid feelings of lightheadedness, confusion and weakness.

Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a facility that specializes in treating adolescents and teenagers struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse and dual diagnosis. Call 866-577-3633 to speak with a professional today.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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