Dehydration

Signs & Symptoms

Signs of dehydration in adults include being thirsty, urinating less often than usual, dark-colored urine, dry skin, feeling tired, dizziness, and fainting. Dehydration can cause minor to severe health problems including weakness, dizziness, confusion, headaches and heatstroke. The heart and blood vessels function more efficiently when the body is well-hydrated, and the muscles rely on adequate fluid to remove waste in order to work efficiently. Keep in mind that being slightly dehydrated can be confused with hunger and lead to overeating and may also slow metabolism. Staying well-hydrated can be a helpful strategy for weight management, too.

Signs of dehydration in babies and young children include a dry mouth and tongue, crying without tears, no wet diapers for 3 hours or more, a high fever and being unusually sleepy or drowsy

Prevention

The best approach to avoiding dehydration is drinking fluids regularly throughout the day, both with and between meals. It is ideal to not wait until you are feeling thirsty to drink. Some people need reminders or routines to help remember to drink enough fluids. Tools such as cellphone apps, fluid tracking cups and food journals can help encourage adequate fluid intake.

Fluid Needs 

An individual’s daily fluid needs depend on various factors including activity level, climate conditions, body size and the status of your overall health. Those who are physically active in the heat have an increased risk of dehydration. Fluids should be consumed before, during and after participating in sports and other physical activities. For those doing moderate to vigorous exercise in the heat, weighing yourself before and after working out can help determine how much should be consumed to replace lost fluids. Each pound of fluid lost during exercise should be replenished with a pint of fluid post-workout.

Other than Water …  

Although water is the perfect drink for staying hydrated, those who like drinks with flavor can enjoy a wide variety of beverages such asmilk, flavored water, 100% juice, sparkling water and unsweetened iced tea to quench their thirst. Sports drinks with electrolytes also can be beneficial for those engaging in at least 60 minutes of physical activity.

Be sure to include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits in your meals, which will contribute to overall fluid consumption since they are made of about 80 to 90 percent water.

High Risk Individuals 

Older adults, people with certain health conditions, people taking certain medications, younger people, and those engaging in vigorous physical activity are at heightened risk of dehydration. Keep a variety of favorite beverages on hand and set a goal to drink regularly throughout the day and more frequently during exercise. Know the signs and symptoms of dehydration and consult a physician if you or someone else appears to be suffering from dehydration.

References:

  • Weintraub, LeeAnn. (2014, August 11). “Tips on staying hydrated during the warmer months.” Retrieved from http://www.dailynews.com/health/20140811/tips-on-staying-hydrated-during-the-warmer-months
  • “Dehydration.” Retrieved from  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dehydration.html
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