Water is the most important nutrient we consume, as it makes up about two thirds of our bodies and is responsible for everything from our blood flow and digestion to body temperature regulation and cell health. What happens when increased demand in the summer from excess heat and activity exceeds our body’s regular intake? Dehydration, and it can have major effects on the body.
What is dehydration?
Most people think that “dehydration” is just “not drinking enough water,” but the Mayo clinic defines it as a condition “occurring when you use or lose more fluid (through extreme sweating, fever, vomiting/diarrhea, etc.) than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions.” It’s usually easy to reverse a mild to moderate case of dehydration by drinking more fluids, but if dehydration is severe, it requires immediate medical attention and can be very dangerous.
What are the most common dehydration symptoms?
The earliest signs of dehydration are feeling thirst and urinating less often. The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain responsible for a variety of functions, including triggering the processes that balance our body fluids. When it senses a drop of just one to two percent of the water in the blood, it cues the sensation of thirst to get us to drink and releases an anti-diuretic hormone that causes the kidneys to remove less water from the blood, conserving the valuable resource. More serious dehydration symptoms can include headache and lightheadedness, confusion and fatigue, sticky, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, constipation, and if severe, even swelling of the brain and seizures.
When it comes to staying hydrated, the old adage is true, prevention is the best medicine. Anticipating a long work out or planning to play some ball in the sun? Spend time before the activity to slowly drinking more water, and you’ll be well-hydrated at the outset instead of playing catch-up. How much water should you be drinking? According to the Institute of Medicine, hydration needs vary from person to person, day to day, and depends on everything from body composition to activity level. Typically, the recommended “adequate intake” for staying hydrated is roughly 13 cups daily for men, and about 9 cups for women, and considerably more with excess sweating or illness. The good news is that all of that fluid doesn’t only have to be water. It’s estimated that about 20% of our daily fluid intake actually comes from foods with a high water content, like fruits, vegetables, and even meats, and any beverages that aren’t caffeinated or alcoholic, like teas, juices, decaf coffee and even sodas, can also count toward your daily needs.
Are you Missing out on any summer activities?
If pain or discomfort is keeping you on the sidelines this summer, contact Envista Medical. Our comprehensive treatment options and proven medical weight loss programs can help bring back function and confidence and get you moving again.