January 28, 2023

Drinking alcohol when it’s hot, what effect does it have on the body?

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(CNN Spanish) — In the midst of a heat wave, you may find yourself wanting one or several ice-cold beers. What’s more: you may think that they will help you refresh and get through the day better. However, drinking alcohol can have the opposite effect on your body.

Avoid alcoholic beverages. That is one of the recommendations to prevent heat-related illnesses made by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English), a recommendation that these days is also replicated on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the United Kingdom, which has broken its historical record for high temperatures.

The reason is simple: alcohol dehydrates you, which can mean that you do not have the water and fluids necessary for the normal functioning of the body.

Why does alcohol dehydrate you?

Alcohol has a “double effect” on the body, explained Dr. Elmer Huerta, a public health specialist and contributor to CNN en Español. On the one hand, it is a diuretic substance, which makes the body eliminate more water.

But also “it prevents a hormone called vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone from being produced in the brain, which also causes excess water to be eliminated.”

On the other hand, alcohol makes you sweat more and the “combination of sweating more in the heat and going to the bathroom more means you lose more fluid than you take in” and you can become dehydrated unless you replenish that fluid, explains the British site Drinkaware.

In short, there are three factors that play into the equation: its antidiuretic potential, its effect on vasopressin and on sweat.

(Its dehydrating effect, however, is not limited to heat: it happens whenever you consume alcohol and that is the reason why if one day you drink a lot the next you can have a hangover or hangover, says Dr. Huerta)

Unprecedented heat wave hits the US 4:18

Are you going to drink alcohol in the heat? Follow these two tips

If you are going to drink alcohol anyway, keep these two keys in mind: the maximum suggested amounts and the importance of also drinking water.

“The idea would be that the person, if he wants to drink alcohol, should not go over a beer for every two hours, which is the time that the liver needs to metabolize the alcohol that is in a bottle of beer or in a glass of wine. That is to say, a very slight amount, very moderate”, explained Dr. Huerta.

Another tip to keep in mind is to avoid getting into the water in a pool or the sea. You may think that you haven’t had enough to drink and that it will help you cool down, but alcohol increases the risk of drowning. In fact, around a quarter of all people who drown in the UK have blood alcohol levels, according to statistics from the charity Royal Life Saving Society UK.

What other drinks to avoid?

Caffeine is another substance that is often under the microscope. Nevertheless, the CDC states that the amount of caffeine in coffee and tea “is probably not going to have an effect on overall hydration.

The situation changes if we refer to energizers.

Energy drinks, in some cases, have more caffeine than the usual measures of coffee or soft drinks, the CDC says, and so you want to avoid them. Taking several a day could increase the volume of caffeine enough to have a negative effect on the heart by adding to the stress that heat generates in the body.

Also, keep in mind that many of these energy drinks have even more sugar than soft drinks, so they also involve a considerable intake of calories.



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