Dehydration is a problem. Summer has come and everyone is out in the wonderful weather enjoying the sun. Few people stop to consider the consequences of all this fun in the sun. One of the side effects of a round of volleyball at the beach, or a day playing 18 holes of golf, or running a 5k in the heat is dehydration. When your body loses more water that you take in it causes you to dehydrate. 75% of your body weight is water. You are constantly losing water, through breathing, sweating, and urination just to mention a few bodily functions.
There are many ways that you can lose excess water. Diarrhea is the number one cause for all age group. Next would be vomiting, and then an illness like diabetes which causes frequent urination. Any of these conditions can cause your body to lose water faster than it can be replaced. In the case of vomiting, it can just be difficult to keep the fluids down.
The other way to lose a dangerous amount of fluid is through excess perspiration, like when you are exercising on a hot day. You may not even be aware that you are depleting your body of essential fluids until you start to suffer the side effects.
If your notice that you are experiencing a dry mouth, a headache. Also, dark or decreased urine you may be experiencing early dehydration. As the fluid volume of your body drops your heart will have to work harder to maintain blood pressure. It will start shunting blood away from your extremities and to your vital organs in an attempt to maintain life. As dehydration continues you may begin to experience confusion, lethargy. As a matter of fact you cab suffer from seizures and loss of consciousness. Untreated it will lead to death.
If you are experiencing an illness with uncontrolled nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea seek medical attention. Also, If you are experiencing increased thirst and increased urination you may be suffering from diabetes and again you need to seek medical attention.
In Addition, If you are working outdoors or exercising in hot weather. Also, if you begin to experience the early warning signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, headache or fatigue stop what you are doing and find a cool place to rest. Drinking cool water will help. You can also consume popsicles and fruit juices. Sports drinks may also be helpful they contain electrolytes and carbohydrates that your body has been losing while you were perspiring. Do not go back to what you were doing, give your body time to rest and recover.
The last thing that you want to do is to have a cold beer. If beer is your drink, it will taste really good and quite refreshing. But having that cold one is the worst thing that you can do. Alcohol is a diuretic, a diuretic is an agent which causes the body to activate its chemical cascade to rid its self of excess fluid. So instead of replacing the vital fluid which your body now needs you will actually be causing your body to rid its’ self of more fluid and increase the dehydration.
Enjoy your summer, and use caution in hot weather, remember small children and the elderly are more susceptible to dehydration and they may not display the warning signs until the condition becomes serious.
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation