Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke
Dehydration can result into:
- Loss of co-ordination
- Dry skin
- Decreased urine output
- Elevated body temperature
Effects of dehydration also include:
- Heat cramp
- Heat exhaustion
- Deadly heat stroke
- Electrolytes (sodium & chlorine ) losses occur together with water loss.
How much water do we need?
What does being well hydrated mean?
The amount of water a person needs depends on:
- Climatic conditions
- Clothing worn and
- Exercise intensity and duration
A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t.
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease may also mean you need to drink more water.
People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration
And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.
Thirst is a late signal. Feeling thirsty means that we are already dehydrated. The easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of urine. Pale and clear means we are well hydrated. If it’s dark, we need to drink more fluids.
What is the best way to rehydrate?
- For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated.
- Sources of water also include foods, such fruits and vegetables which contain a high percentage of water.
- Sports drinks with electrolytes, may be useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in very hot weather, though they tend to be high in added sugars and calories.
- Avoid fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda as they can be hard on the stomach if we are dehydrated
- It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids.
Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.
People who have a heart condition, are older than 50 or overweight may also have to take extra precautions.
If you experience signs of dehydration, heat cramps or heat exhaustion:
- Stop exercising right away.
- Sip water or suck on ice cubes.
- Move to the shade or indoors as soon as possible.
- Douse yourself with cold water.
- Apply cold, wet cloths to the neck, groin and armpits.
- Seek medical attention if your condition doesn’t improve or gets worse.
Heat stroke is when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature, and it keeps rising. This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention
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