Never Drink This During a Heat Wave, Experts Warn

Consuming these drinks could put you at unnecessary risk.

As many states are in the midst of the first heat wave of the year, residents are trying to cope with the climbing temperatures outside. While a hot day can be a fun time to jump in the pool or hit the beach, being outside in the heat comes with some risks, including heat stroke and dehydration. And there are some hazards you might not even be aware of. Experts say that avoiding certain beverages can help lower your risk of experiencing adverse effects from the heat. Read on to find out what you should never drink during a heat wave.

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Avoid alcohol and only drink caffeine in moderation during a heat wave.

Drinking beer
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Experts warn that consuming beverages that dehydrate you should be avoided during a heat wave. While alcohol is the biggest culprit of dehydration, other drinks should be ditched or consumed in limited quantities. Riana Pryor, PhD, a professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, told USA Today that during a heat wave, caffeine of any kind, including soda, tea, and coffee, must be consumed in moderation, while alcohol should be fully ruled out because it can further dehydrate you.

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All of these beverages can exacerbate dehydration.

Young woman drinking iced coffee sunny day
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You might be tempted to reach for an ice-cold soda on a hot day, but it's not the best idea. A July 2016 study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that soft drinks worsen dehydration and increase kidney injuries. Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Prevention that coffee and tea can be consumed safely in hot weather by people who are accustomed to these drinks, as long as they're also drinking an ample amount of water. "For consistent caffeine drinkers, beverages like iced tea or coffee can actually contribute to your daily fluid intake," Mangieri explained. However, "for non-caffeine drinkers, caffeinated beverages will have a more pronounced effect, especially on a hot day."

Alcohol is a no-go, she added. "It contributes to increased urine output, which ups the risk of dehydration," Mangieri said. Running to the bathroom more frequently and trying to rehydrate aren't the only things you need to worry about when drinking alcohol in the heat. According to Flushing Hospital, "The body's temperature is regulated by the hypothalamus gland. Alcohol will cause a slowing down of the hypothalamus, so if the body is already hot because of the heat, the effects of alcohol will make the body think it is even hotter."

Look out for signs of dehydration.

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When the sun is sizzling, be sure to keep an eye out for signs that you're dehydrated. The color of your urine can be a key indicator of how hydrated you are. Pryor told USA Today that if your urine is the color of lemonade or lighter, you're in the clear. However, if your urine is the color of apple juice or darker, then you need to be consuming more water. According to Dental Touch, bad breath can also be a sign of dehydration. When you're dehydrated, you're not producing enough saliva, so "without saliva there to clean out debris, bacteria have the chance to grow and cause bad breath," the site explains.

Per the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS), other signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, tired, dizzy, or lightheaded. Dry mouth, lips, or eyes could also be signs that you need more water.

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Stay inside as much as possible on exceedingly hot days.

Older man drinking water
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There are a few key things you can do to stay safe during a heat wave. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests staying inside in cool air, drinking plenty of water, pacing yourself, and taking cool showers during hot weather. If you have to venture outside, you should avoid going out in the sun during the hottest times of the day.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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