I've talked about adequate water consumption before but I believe it doesn't hurt to repeat a few things that are so important to your good health, especially this topic and especially while we are in the throes of summer.
I read an article in the Health section of the newspaper yesterday that had some good points that I am sharing here.
- Don't wait until you feel parched to drink something. Thirst is just one symptom of dehydration. there are other ways that dehydration rears its ugly head in your life.
- dark urine - if your urine runs dark and you are not urinating much during the day, this could be an indication of dehydration
- dry skin - your skin needs water to stay hydrated. Your body will do what it can to protect itself so it will take moisture from wherever it is in the body to stay alive.
- headaches, muscle cramps, sleepiness, irritability, confusion, fatigue - these symptoms can often be mistaken for signs of something else and not recognized as signs of dehydration
- convulsions and delirium - this is when dehydration can become life threatening
- Choose the right amount to drink. I always advise people to use their body weight as a gauge for how much water they should consume. Half the body weight in ounces of water is often an adequate amount to keep you fully hydrated. Some advice is to drink eight eight ounce glasses of water per day but it's important to take into consideration environmental factors, activity level, and how you feel. I would err on the side of caution and drink more rather than less than 64 ounces per day. You can develop water intoxication but that happens when you consume vast quantities in a short period of time. Don't do that.
- The outside temperature doesn't have to be high for you to become dehydrated. If you tend to sweat a lot in the humidity or when the dew point is high, even though the temperature is somewhat moderate, you could experience symptoms of dehydration. Be sure to pay attention to how you feel and don't wait until it becomes critical to ask for help if you feel you need to.
- You need more than water to keep your hydration level up. When you are dehydrated or perspiring profusely, you need more than water to keep yourself healthy. You may need to replenish electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Choose a healthy alternative like coconut water to typical sports drinks that are often full of artificial ingredients and coloring.
- You may become dehydrated hours or days after you were in the heat. As I mentioned before, your body will do what it can to stay alive until it can no longer do so. This is when the signs of dehydration will show up.
The bottom line is, to prevent dehydration drink lots of water, especially if you are engaged in strenuous activity, wear weather appropriate clothing that is lightweight, light in color and loose fitting, limit activity in extreme heat to avoid heatstroke, and make sure to check on more vulnerable neighbors and loved ones. You can enjoy the heat but be sensible about it.