Summertime and the livin' is easy…but in the summer months, there are some things that require special attention for people with CF. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as the temperature rises.
Drinking plenty of fluids is always necessary for people with CF but becomes especially important during the hot, humid months of summer.
- Don't wait until you feel thirsty. You should aim to drink at least 64 ounces throughout the day. A great way to know if you are drinking enough is to fill a 64 ounce container and monitor your fluid intake as you empty the container to meet your daily goal.
- Caffeinated drinks don't count. Caffeinated beverages like iced or hot tea and coffee or caffeinated sodas do not count towards your 64 ounce goal. (They are diuretics and cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently and therefore lose fluid!) Another easy way to check if you are drinking enough is to check the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow, then you need to drink more fluids.
- Drink before during and after you exercise. If you are exercising in the warm weather, you will need to drink even more fluid than usual. When exercising, it is recommended that you drink 6-12 ounces every 20-30 minutes.
- Babies need extra fluids, too. Infants can get dehydrated more quickly than young children, so make sure to keep them hydrated and dressed in clothing that will keep them cool. Ask your care team if supplements are needed for your infant during the summer months.
Individuals with cystic fibrosis lose more salt (sodium chloride) in their sweat than those without CF. In the summer months and during exercise, when we sweat more, those with CF are at increased risk of becoming hyponatremic which means to have a low sodium level in your blood.
- Know the signs. Symptoms of hyponatremia include feeling nauseated, vomiting, headache, muscle weakness and cramping. It is important to pay attention to your salt intake and how you feel.
- Eat more salt. To add salt to your diet you can increase the use of table salt to your food, eat some salty snacks, and read food labels to choose those with a higher salt content. If you are exercising you may want to add 1/8 teaspoon of salt to your 12 ounce sports drinks.
Upping your salt intake will also help with your fluid intake. “How?” you might ask. Extra salt will tell your brain that you are thirsty and you will want to drink more. If you have a low level of salt in your system, you will not have that trigger and that may also lead you to become dehydrated.
- Check the temperature. Some medications will need to be refrigerated while others are fine at room temperature. If you are not sure about the temperature sensitivity of each medication, check with your pharmacist.
- Keep medications cool while on the go. You might need to keep medication in a small cooler with an ice pack if you are going to be out and about during the day. Enzymes need to be kept at room temperature, 59-86 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you should not keep them in your car or in direct sunlight. Doing so will cause them to be less effective.
Enjoy your summer but don't take a break from paying attention to your fluids, salt and proper medication storage!
What summertime tips do you have to share?