Dehydration is something we all should be considering as temperatures increase into the heart of summer, but why? Outside of the serious health consequences, dehydration can have other effects on our bodies of which we might not be aware. Some of the important questions people may have when considering dehydration or heat loss include: What does a dehydrated state look like? How much fluid should I be taking in on a daily basis? How much water should I be drinking when I am active and enjoying the weather? Am I more susceptible to injury when I am dehydrated?
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a state that can occur when the loss of body fluid exceeds the amount that is taken in. With dehydration, more water (including electrolytes-or salts) is moving out of individual cells than the amount of water that is absorbed through drinking. The loss of fluid can occur with perspiration (sweating), urination/defecation, and even water vapor as we breathe. A large amount of water can be lost when we sweat, so it is extremely important to remember to hydrate as we continue to enjoy being outside in the hot summer months.
What does Dehydration look like?
The mild to moderate symptoms of dehydration are warning signs before the more serious health consequences occur. These include increased thirst, dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, decreased urine output, dark yellow/brown urine, headache, dry skin, and bodily injury.
Serious Symptoms (Seek Medical Help)
It is important that we are aware of the serious signs of dehydration in case medical attention is needed. These signs include: decreased urination or having very dark urine, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sunken eyes, sleepiness/lack of energy, confusion, and fainting. For your own safety, when experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to seek medical help immediately.
How much water should we drink?
In order to avoid the dangers of dehydration, we need to figure out how much to drink in the first place.
This is actually a simple question with no easy answers. Of course, we have all heard the statement “we need to be drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day.” However, this is not a hard number for everyone. There are many variables that need to be understood to establish the correct daily fluid intake for each individual. Some of these variables include: body size and weight, physical activity, and outside temperature.
Basic water intake based on body weight
A good rule of thumb, reported by US News and World Report, is at minimum, you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., you should drink a minimum of 100 oz of water each day (just over six 16 oz glasses per day).
Water intake with exercise and outside activity.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends adding around 12 oz of water to your daily intake for every 30 minutes of exercise. When sitting outside, adding 12 oz of water for every 1 hour in the sun, should help replenish fluids lost.
Good Rules of Thumb
One of the most important rules is to pre-hydrate. This means, drink before you ever start feeling thirsty, or before an activity. Also, monitor your urine; if you are hydrated you should be urinating about once every 2-4 hours, and urine should be colorless or a very pale yellow.
Are we more susceptible to musculoskeletal injury when in a dehydrated state?
The simple answer to this question is yes. When the cells in your body lack their normal fluid state, the tissue those cells make up (ligament, tendon, muscle) can more easily be torn or strained. A simple 30 minute jog every day may lead to a muscle injury if your body is in a dehydrated state. It is essential to understand your basic hydration status as discussed above, so that these injuries can be avoided altogether.
Hopefully, this has helped you gain a deeper understanding of dehydration. There are still plenty of warm weather days left this summer. Stay hydrated, so you can enjoy it with friends and family. We are happy to provide more information about dehydration and its effects on your health. Simply contact our office or use our online scheduler to set up an appointment. Have a wonderful rest of your summer, and remember to drink plenty of water!