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The US Centers for Disease Control predicts that 6,000 athletes will go to the emergency room for treatment of heat-related illnesses this summer. The majority going to ER for treatment after working out in summer heat will be treated for dehydration.

Five Workout Drinks to Cheer

The essential beverage for preventing dehydration is water. It is not necessary to get fancy to prevent dehydration. A pinch of salt and splash of fruit juice add needed electrolytes sodium and potassium. Most adults need about 2-1/2 cups (20 ounces, or 500 ml) of fluid before heavy exercise in intense summer heat. Water always works, but there are also five workout drinks we can all cheer about.
6. Selzter water (sparkling water) is OK after a workout, but it is not very useful during a workout. You simply cannot chug down a lot of bubbly seltzer water without it bubbling back through your nose. And even if you get the seltzer water down, it can cause bloating and gas.

7. Beer is a popular workout drink, but it's usually not a good idea. The alcohol in beer interferes with athletic performance, not to mention the skills needed to drive home after practice, but that's not the only problem.

Drinking beer stimulates urination, and urination is dehydrating. Urination reduces blood volume, and the reduction in blood volume causes a higher blood alcohol. Beer is about 20% more intoxicating when it is drunk after working out in humid, 95° F (35° C) weather.

8. Carbonated soft drinks are a problem for the same reason. It's hard to gulp down a Coca-Cola, and you really don't want to be thrown off your game by the need to belch. While scientific studies have shown that Coca-Cola and similar beverages are just as good as most sports drinks during the latter phases of a workout, such as the end of a long run or a long bike ride, they are detrimental to performance earlier in the event.

9. Energy drinks are usually a bad idea for young athletes. A tiny can of Red Bull, for instance, contains 27 grams of sugar, four times the concentration of sugar in coconut water, and almost as much caffeine as an espresso. The real problem for younger athletes, however, is a chemical called glucoronolactone, added to extend the "sugar high."

The prolonged effects of sugar stimulation are just too much for some children and teens. A few have suffered seizures, short-term memory loss similar to Alzheimer's, and heart and/or liver damage. The worst effects occur in children who also use the asthma medication Theo-Dur (theophylline).

10. Extremely cold iced drinks can be deadly, most often to athletes at their peak of fitness. A sudden surge of ice water into the gut can shrink and shut down the inferior mesenteric artery, which provides blood to the left side of the intestines. Oxygen deprivation causes tissue death in the colon from the outside in. The outermost layer of cells lining the colon dies, then the second layer, and so on. As the gut dies, it loses its ability to continue absorbing water and nutrients, and death results in up to 90% of cases. Most of the 10% who survive have to have an emergency colostomy, removal of the disease tissue.

Who is most at risk for ice-induced ischemic colitis? The condition most commonly occurs among marathon and triathlon runners, and in the elderly. (Elderly persons are actually more likely to survive.) It can also happen to people who are dehydrated for several hours who relieve thirst with a large tumbler of ice-cold water.

Although the condition affects the left side of the colon, the pain may be felt in the middle or even the right side of the abdomen. Athletes intent on bearing excruciating pain in their competitive events may ignore the warning signs of ischemic colitis until it is too late to treat.

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