Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. Makes sense, yes?
Up to 75% of the body’s weight is made up of water. Five quarts of blood coursing through your body are ninety percent water, and the rest of your body holds between fifty and eighty quarts of water. Your brain and nerve tissues are eighty percent water or more.
Apparently, a two percent drop in hydration will make your short-term memory so fuzzy that you’ll be unable to remember your friends’ names, have trouble doing basic math, and forget where you put your keys. Some say that seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
How many people complain of a lack of energy? Insufficient energy is the first sign that the blood, tissues, and organs are not getting enough water, and your liver and brain are the least tolerant of a lack of water.
We lose water routinely when we breathe and humidified air leaves the body, sweat to cool the body, and when we rid the body of waste products.
We lose even more water than normal when our environment is hot, especially when we’re working in it. We lose more than normal when we drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages which are actually be ‘diuretics’. Alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate the body.
As you read this, most of you are thinking that this is pretty much common-sense. However, what you may not realize is how easily and quickly you can become dehydrated and most of you don’t or won’t even know it! You may have symptoms, but you attribute it to other things, or even ‘normalcy’.
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration
Dry, sticky mouth
Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
Thirst (not always though…)
Decreased urine output
Dark Colored Urine
Fatigue or Weakness
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Loss of Appetite
Unfortunately, thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially in children and older adults. A better indicator is the color of your urine: Clear or light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.
When a person becomes dehydrated they have also lost electrolytes so it is very important to replenish them along with the water. The type of electrolytes needed for rehydration are sodium and potassium salts usually found in sports drinks like Gatorade and pediatric formulas like Pedialite. Electrolytes are needed for electro-chemical reactions within cells. A lack of electrolytes in the body can interfere with the chemical reactions needed for healthy cell operation and is known as water intoxication.
On a personal note, not long ago during several days of a hot spell here (mid 90′s), I discovered (after-the-fact) that I had become dehydrated. I began to get head-rushes or dizziness when suddenly getting up, I had realized that i really wasn’t even that thirsty, I had not been eating enough, and I felt fairly weak – without much energy. I thought something worse might be going on, but after putting it all together and flushing my body with lots of water, after awhile I felt much better. I hadn’t even realized what had happened…
Lesson: Force yourself to drink more water than you otherwise would. It certainly won’t hurt!
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