Prevent Dehydration with Adequate Fluid Intake

With summer quickly approaching and temperatures on the rise, it’s critical to understand the importance of maintaining adequate hydration and recognizing symptoms that may indicate a detrimental inadequacy of fluids.

 

The human body requires water to survive. Water, the body’s principal chemical component, makes up about 60% of body weight. Your body’s cells, tissues and organ need water to perform their functions properly. For example, water helps to rid the body of wastes through urination and perspiration, keeps the body’s temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, and protects tissues. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in, and it can be particularly dangerous for children and older adults.

Children may suffer dehydration following a prolonged bout of diarrhea. Older adults, whose water volume is naturally lower, may be at higher risk of dehydration because of chronic conditions or even medications they may take. In warmer weather conditions, it’s especially important to increase water intake. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that daily fluid intake for men should be about 15.5 cups of fluids and 11.5 cups per day for women. The recommendations encompass fluids not only from water but also from other beverages and food. For example, fluids can be derived from tea, juices, and fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, celery and zucchini.

A variety of factors can influence the body’s total fluid volume needs. For example, people who perform activities that cause them to perspire will need extra water to counteract their fluid loss. Hot or humid weather can prompt sweating, requiring additional fluid intake. Fever, vomiting or diarrhea causes the body to lose fluid. And pregnant women require higher fluid volumes to remain hydrated.

Dehydration manifests in a number of ways. Symptoms can include extreme thirst, fatigue, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, dizziness or confusion. If you believe you or a family member could be suffering from dehydration, consult with your provider. He or she may be able to provide a diagnosis based on appearances and symptoms. Tests to confirm a diagnosis include blood tests and urinalysis. Treatment for dehydration involves replacing the fluids and electrolytes (essential minerals found in the blood) lost from the body.

To prevent dehydration, ensure that you provide the fluids your body needs, and drink plenty of water. Additionally, it’s advisable to drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with every meal as well as between meals. When exercising, drink water before, during and after a workout. If you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Sometimes thirst is confused with hunger. Surprisingly, it’s actually possible to drink too much water. When the kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the sodium content of the blood is diluted, which can be life-threatening.

Author
Ithaca Primary Care

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