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Spending hours on end in air-conditioned rooms in the summer gives people the false impression that they don't have to drink a lot of water, experts said.
Dr. Joseph Djemal, chief executive officer of the TEREM urgent care clinics in Jerusalem, Ma'aleh Adumim and other parts of the country, said his clinics have been admitting a growing number of dehydrated patients. Since 2005, TEREM has noted a 100 percent increase in the number of patients who come for emergency care due to exposure to the heat in summer. Because they were sitting in air conditioned rooms, many of these patients did not realize that they were becoming dehydrated until the problem became very serious. For this reason, Dr. Djemal said, it is critical to self-monitor one's drinking pattern, taking care to drink even when one is not feeling thirsty.
Dr. Todd Zalut, head of the emergency department at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, noted that not only are more dehydration victims being admitted, but they are arriving in worse condition than before. The combination of dehydration with physical exertion such as hiking is especially dangerous, he said, and can lead to permanent kidney damage.
TEREM also reported a 25% increase in children's home accidents compared to Winter 2006. Most of the children, on vacation from school, are aged five to 15. Among the injuries are fractures, cuts and physical trauma. The long summer vacation, where children are in an unstructured and often unsupervised environment, can be significantly more dangerous to children than their being in schools and kindergartens, said Djemal.