Dehydration, the loss of too much fluid from your body, does not occur just during the hot days of summer, but can pose a problem year-round.
“Dehydration occurs because of an imbalance between water intake and water loss,” according to Dr. Brian Bachelder, an Akron-based family physician. “It is normal for people to lose some water from their bodies every day, for example, in their urine and bowel movements, so poor intake can be a cause especially in the elderly.”
Your body depends on water for survival; water makes up more than half of your body weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health.
“People with mild dehydration might not notice any symptoms. But, as dehydration gets worse, it can cause symptoms such as feeling thirsty, a dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling tired or confused, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, eyes that look sunken in the face, and urinating less often, or having yellow or brown urine,” Dr. Bachelder said.
Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration to act. It can be hard to recognize when you’re dehydrated, especially as you age. There are steps one can take to help prevent dehydration.
• Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
• If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.
• If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during, and after your workout.
• Start and end your day with a glass of water.
• When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
• Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and when you go to bed. Or, drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.
Drink water when you go to a restaurant. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it’s free.
If you are concerned about symptoms of dehydration, contact your family physician. Dr. Bachelder also recommends contacting your doctor if you are experiencing diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, have vomiting that lasts more than one day, can’t keep any fluids down for more than eight hours or are urinating much more than usual.
For more information, visit www.familydoctor.org.