When your body is low on water, you become dehydrated. 80% of the human body is made up of water. Our bodies rely on water to function. Research tells us that even a 1% drop in your water and hydration levels can have an impact on your cognitive function. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and lethargy. When dehydration crosses into becoming moderate or severe, the consequences can be serious. Read on to learn the key facts on dehydration including, dehydration risks, the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and the best ways to stay hydrated.
How Does Dehydration Happen?
Dehydration happens when your body cannot function properly due to fluid loss. This fluid loss might occur because you’re sick, get busy and forget to drink, are outside in hot conditions, or from exercise-related sweating. The early indicators that you’re dehydrated include a dry mouth, no urine output, a headache, dark yellow urine, or muscle cramps. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to become dehydrated. This is why it’s super important to be in-tune with your body and be aware of dehydration risks. Severe dehydration can lead to serious health complications such as heat cramps or heat stroke, kidney problems, seizures, or low volume blood shock.
Drinking sufficient water really is a must with a mineral complex like SierraSil as it has highly absorptive properties and thus may cause constipation if not enough water is in the system to allow it to move freely through the GI tract.
Who is At Risk for Dehydration?
Really anyone can become dehydrated but specific groups of people are more susceptible to dehydration.
It’s important that if you take any medication or supplements, you understand the impacts on your dehydration levels. For example, with SierraSil Joint Formula 14, we recommend you drink 8 glasses of water per day to support the multiple benefits of our all-natural supplement.
Senior adults: have a smaller fluid reserve, have a reduced ability to conserve water, and the thirst sensation is less pronounced. This makes it easy to inadvertently neglect fluid intake. This is complicated by many illnesses that are associated with senior adults such as diabetes, dementia, and joint and mobility issues that make it hard to get up and easily access fluids.
People with chronic illness: untreated or uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disease, medications that increase urine output, and people with ileostomies or colostomies are at a risk for dehydration. Anyone who is sick for multiple days is at risk for dehydration due to reduced appetite and thirst.
People who are in hot conditions: athletes who exercise in hot conditions and people who work in hot environments have an increased risk for dehydration. Be aware of the temperature and humidity levels, make sure you’re taking in extra fluids and electrolytes.
Infants and children: infants and children are most prone to diarrhea and vomiting. This makes them extremely susceptible to dehydration. A fever or sunburn also increases the dehydration risk in children. Infants and children typically don’t pay attention to their thirst levels and often cannot access their own drinks.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration?
The signs and symptoms of dehydration differ based on your level of dehydration.
Mild or Moderate Dehydration: if you’ve been feeling unwell, have been busy rushing around or have been in hot conditions, you’re at risk of mild dehydration. The signs and symptoms of mild dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Infrequent peeing
- Dark yellow pee
- Skin that is dry and cool to the touch
- Muscle cramps
If you experience any of these symptoms, think about when you last had something to eat and drink. Pour yourself a glass of water and if possible, eat some hydrating food such as cucumber or fruit. Do not ignore these signs and symptoms.
Severe Dehydration: this is very dangerous and if left untreated could result in serious illness.
Pay attention to these signs and symptoms in yourself and others such as senior adults:
- Not peeing at all or very thick and odorous pee
- Very dry skin
- Increased heartrate
- Rapid breathing
- Lethargy, very low energy
- Sunken eyes
Contact your doctor should you experience any of these symptoms. Remember, your body relies on water to function – don’t ignore these signs and symptoms.
Dehydration in Children and Infants: remember that children and infant often can’t communicate what they’re feeling or even if they’re thirsty.
Know these signs and symptoms of dehydration in children and infants:
- No tears when crying
- No wet diapers for 3 hours
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Sunken cheeks or eyes
- A soft sunken spot on the top of the skull
- Listless or irritable
Do not ignore these symptoms. Contact a doctor immediately.
How can I Stay Hydrated?
The best way to stay hydrated is to keep tabs on how much you’re drinking, peeing, and sweating. When one of these factors is out-of-balance, you’re at risk for dehydration. Staying hydrated is not strictly limited to your water intake. There are a range of liquids, foods, and supplements that can help you stay hydrated.
One of the best ways to stay hydrated is to plan ahead. Think about your day, where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing, and how much you normally drink. Bring a bottle or two of water with you and don’t hesitate to take a break to drink some water or other drink. And in case, you’re wondering – yes, you can drink coffee and tea. Caffeine does have a mild diuretic effect, but when you a coffee or two a day is not going to cause you to be dehydrated. However, make sure you’re also taking in other liquids through-out the day including water. Staying hydrated gives you more energy, helps your skin look and feel better, supports joint function by reducing inflammation and removing toxins, allows your body to function properly, avoids the mid-afternoon slump, and prevents that headachy feeling that can happen.
Sea salt: when you sweat, you lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are important for helping to regulate your muscle and nerve function, hydration levels, blood pressure, and your pH levels. Salt contain sodium and other key electrolytes that you lose through sweat including magnesium, calcium, and potassium. If you know you’ll be out for a long run or working out in the garden all day – sprinkle a little extra salt on your vegetables or add a pinch to your water.
Lemon water: squeeze the juice from one lemon into a large glass of water. This super hydrating drink is ideal for helping replace lost electrolytes and giving your body a good boost of much-needed water.
Eat your fruits and veggies: lettuce, cucumbers, greens, celery, tomatoes, red peppers, mango, melons, grapes, grapefruit, and carrots are all high in water content. Add these to salads, smoothies, soups, and as your mid-afternoon snack.
Soups and smoothies: these are naturally higher in hydrating liquid and are an easy way to get in extra vegetables and fruits.
Meat: yes, meat is an excellent source of water. If you’ve been out all day and are feeling mildly dehydrated, along with drinking water, consider having a hamburger or chicken breast for supper.
Oatmeal: not only does oatmeal give you a great fiber boost, it is also very hydrating. When oats are cooked or left to soak overnight, they absorb the liquid they’re cooked in – making them a super hydrating way to start your day.
Sports drinks: if you’re going to be out on a long hike, bike ride, walk, or working outdoors all day, drink more than water. It’s important you replace the electrolytes that you lose through sweat.
What are some ways to reduce constipation?
In addition, consuming foods with high insoluble fiber content (i.e. Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts) will also help as it will decrease transit time in the GI tract and thus reduce the risk of constipation. To increase fluid intake, options besides water include drinking natural, non-sugary green or herbal teas. Green tea has a small amount of caffeine that also has a peristaltic effect on the gastrointestinal tract and helps food move through properly.