Water is crucial to your health. You’ve probably heard it before, but as much as 75% of your body’s weight is comprised of water. Every minute of every day, you lose a little bit of that water at a time by sweating, urinating, and even just breathing, which is why it’s so important to continually replace it by drinking enough liquid.
Dehydration is what happens when the amount of water leaving your body is greater than the amount you consume. Believe it or not, one of the first signs that you’ve started to become dehydrated is thirst. Doctors say that if you wait until you’re thirsty to have a drink, you’ve waited too long.
Other, more serious, symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, inability to sweat or produce tears, muscle cramps, nausea, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, weakness, confusion, dark urine and/or a decreased need to use the bathroom. Severe dehydration, if left untreated, can lead to coma, organ failure, and even death.
While dehydration can occur at any time, some activities or conditions can contribute to an increased loss of water, requiring you to drink more in order to stay balanced. These factors include heat, exercise, and age — young children and senior citizens are more prone to suffer the effects of dehydration. Any combination of these factors can make the threat worse, making it vitally important to drink before, during, and after exercise, especially when the weather gets warm.
He are a few tips to help you prevent dehydration:
– Always carry a water bottle with you, and try to take a drink every 15-20 minutes, especially when you plan to be active and/or when the weather is hot.
– Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to seek out water. By then, you’ve already started to become dehydrated.
– Always drink at least one 8-oz. glass of water before exercising.
– Avoid or moderate consumption of alcohol or caffeinated beverages such as coffee, cola, or energy drinks. These may seem to quench your thirst but actually dehydrate you faster.
– On extremely hot days, try to limit outdoor work or recreation to the early morning or evening. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or tired, head indoors and have a drink.
– When working or exercising outdoors, wear only enough clothing to be comfortable without sweating profusely. Wear layers during less warm months so you can better regulate your temperature. If your clothes get soaked with sweat, change into something dry as soon as possible.