Just Add Water: Tips for Preventing Dehydration

Ah, sweet summertime! It seems like every weekend is jam packed with BBQs, shore days, trips to the neighborhood pool and other summer fun.  Sometimes we get so busy rocking our flip flops, sipping frozen concoctions and working on our suntans that we forget one super important thing: staying hydrated.

We hear it all the time, drink water! But why does this become so much more important during the heat? Will anything really happen if you don’t drink enough H20? The answer is YES! Sipping water throughout the day is crucial to your health and the dangers of dehydration are just plain nasty.  Minor dehydration can ruin your day, moderate dehydration can wreck your week-long vacation, and severe dehydration… well, that can cause some serious damage.

Here are some of the signs you are in need of H2O:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Still not convinced? If you let it go on too long, you can suffer from severe dehyrdration. Signs of severe dehydration include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Pretty awful, right? The good thing is it can be prevented! Here are some key things to remember:

  • Coffee, tea, wine, beer, juice, soda and sports drinks contain caffeine, alcohol, sugar and artificial sweeteners. All of these act as strong DEHYDRATORS. These drinks have a diuretic effect, which forces the body to eliminate more water than it is actually taking in. The more you consume of these beverages, the more dehydrated your body becomes. So while that margarita may feel refreshing, it’s NOT hydrating!
  • Thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of your body’s need for water; a better indicator is the color of your urine. Dark or amber is usually a signal for dehydration. Think clear or light, no need for fright!
  • Older adults, children and individuals with chronic diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease) are at a higher risk for dehydration, so drink accordingly!
  • To keep your body running efficiently,  drink eight large glasses of water per day. MORE water is needed during hot weather, periods of illness and when exercising.  You will need to replenish lost fluids; don’t underestimate the amount of fluids you lose from perspiration. In one hour of exercise, your body can lose more than a quart of water, dependent upon exercise intensity and air temperature.
  • Plan to begin and end your day with water. Even when sleeping, your body is losing water.

The best choice is to prevent dehydration before it kicks it with good old fashioned H20.  If you aren’t a huge water fan, try to spice up your beverage with fresh slices of lemons, limes or mint.  To ensure you have a fun-filled, enjoyable summer, do your body a favor and sip on that water!

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