As you all know, marching band/colorguard is a strenuous activity. It takes hard work and
long hours marching under the blazing hot sun. Water is your best friend during these rehearsals, AND throughout the whole
marching season! We all are at a very high risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke! DRINK WATER ALL THE TIME!!
Take a water bottle with you wherever you go and just drink water whenever you can!
We usually think
that our thirst mechanism will protect us from dehydration. In other words, if we become dehydrated, it will tell us by triggering
intense thirst until we are properly hydrated. BUT IT IS POSSIBLE TO LOSE FLUID SO QUICKLY THAT THE NORMAL THRIST MECHANISM
IS OVERHWHELMED OR OVERRIDDEN!
With normal daily activities we do not sweat very much so loss is minimal -- about
one to two liters per day. But with exertion in hot, dry weather, fluid loss through sweating can become extreme. During heavy
exercise and marching, we can lose one to three liters of water per hour, which can easily amount to 8-10 liters of fluid
over an afternoon. The evaporation of sweat from skin accounts for 90% of our cooling ability. Additionally, our ability to
sweat diminishes as we become dehydrated.
The effects of even mild dehydration are decreased coordination, fatigue,
and impairment of judgment.
The primary cause of symptoms is the amount of sodium and chloride
ions lost (electrolytes), rather than the amount of water. Symptoms include fatigue, exhaustion, nausea, lightheadedness and
possibly heat cramps. Heat exhaustion usually comes on several hours after exertion and dehydration. You may have replaced
the lost fluids by drinking, but not the electrolytes.
Heat exhaustion is not life-threatening and with enough rest
and water, it can be self-corrected. But it can be avoided by consuming enough water to replace the fluids lost, and eating
salty foods or drinking an electrolyte solution.
Heat stroke, on the other hand, is a life-threatening
emergency. Without proper care, heat stroke victims will most likely die. Once our cooling mechanism fails, core temperature
rises rapidly. Death can occur in as little as 30 minutes. When the core temperature rises, the brain, which can only function
in a very narrow temperature range, begins to fail. In an effort to cool the blood and lower the core temperature, the brain
will dilate all the blood vessels in the skin. As a result, the skin becomes RED and HOT, but may still be WET. (Note: Classical
heat stroke, suffered more commonly by the ill and/or elderly, usually produces DRY skin from severe dehydration). As the
brain overheats, the individual may become disoriented, combative, argumentative, and may hallucinate wildly.
heat stroke victims must be transported to the hospital as quickly as possible, while trying to cool down the victim with
wet towels, ice packs, etc...during evacuation.
You should also drink water in the winter! If you have rehearsals
outside in the cold or you have a winter parade, you must drink as much as possible! What do you think all that fog is when
you breathe out? You lose water very quickly that way.
Remember: Drink because you know you should, not because you feel thirsty!!