Friday, June 26, 2009

Are you dehydrated?

Water is something that doesn't get much media attention. Most people do not drink enough water to support their body functions on a daily basis, and in the heat, it's even more important to get an adequate intake of fluids. Your body is constantly losing fluids through normal body functions like breathing, sweating etc. If you drink caffeine or take medicine that causes you to urinate frequently you are even more susceptible to heat related illness.

One way to know if you are starting to get dehydrated is to pay attention to your lips. If you find yourself licking your lips frequently, or if they start to get chapped you could be dehydrated. Normally by the time your body tells you to drink water, it is already feeling the effects of being low on fluids. You should keep a water supply available all the time, but when its hot out you need to be drinking frequently. The recommended daily amount of water is generally 8-9 glasses of water a day for adults during normal activity. Excessive sweating, public speaking, frequent urination and health concerns can change this amount depending on your situation.

If you are doing out door activities you need to make sure you are hydrated before you begin. During the time you are outside you should drink a glass of water about every 20 minutes. Even if you are not thirsty. Children need to be sure to consume water frequently while playing sports, of course they don't need as much as an adult. Children should have about a half a glass every 20 minutes. Sports drinks are popular choices for hydration because they have electrolytes in them, but remember they also may contain high amounts of sugar, sodium or caffiene. Be sure to choose your drinks carefully.

Signs of dehydration are...

  • Dry lips and tongue, sticky feeling
  • Headache
  • Weakness, dizziness, or extreme fatigue
  • Urine that appears darker than normal
  • Nausea
  • Cramps

If you experience these symptoms you should drink water, and be sure to keep drinking plenty of water until all symptoms go away. Don't flood your system with water, because too much water can make you feel nauseated and it can deplete your electrolyte balance. You should have a light snack, including some complex carbohydrates and protein, if you consume large amounts of water.

If you notice someone has stopped sweating, is dizzy or seems disoriented please seek medical attention immediately.

More information is available at these websites.

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