Drinking in the Heat During Summer Music Festivals? You Could Actually Die
As the temperature begins to rise, so does your inclination to drink outside, whether it's outside your favorite music festival or surreptitiously at the beach. After all, there's nothing more refreshing than basking in the sunlight with an ice cold beer or frozen margarita to help quench your thirst and quell your overheating... or is it doing more harm than good? While drinking something cold to cool you down makes sense, drinking alcohol might not be as effective due to how it affects your body.
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Alcohol, whether it is consumed in cold or hot weather, acts as a diuretic – in short, it makes you pee. According to MedicineNet, diuretics cause your body to lose water. It forces the body into "enhancing the excretion of both sodium and chloride in the urine so that water is excreted with them (thiazide diuretic)" and "inhibiting the kidney's ability to reabsorb sodium, thus enhancing the loss of sodium and consequently water in the urine (loop diuretic)."
To survive the heat, you have to stay hydrated and keep your body temperature cool. Fortunately, your body has a natural mechanism of regulating body temperature: sweating. Unfortunately, regulating body temperature becomes difficult when the temperature outside is super hot and oppressively humid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme humidity inhibits sweat from effectively evaporating from your skin and causes your body temperature to rise because said heat isn't able to be released.
While long durations of elevated body temperatures alone can cause damage to your brain and vital organs, the runaway effect of all that pent up heat is more sweating and more water loss. Compound that with alcoholic and sugary mixed cocktails, and dehydration might not be far off – even worse, you might get a heatstroke.
With all that said, alcohol isn't completely verboten; you just need to bolster all your fun imbibing with some plain ol' water. In extreme heat, the CDC recommends drinking more water than usual, about two to four cups per hour, especially if you're working or exercising outside. Just try to stay in the shade.