Roughly 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. As summer approaches, it’s important to know the effects of hydration on your health.
Water makes up about 60% of our bodies. We lose water through sweating, urinating and breathing. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, women should have 11.5 cups a day, and men should drink 15.5 cups a day. Although that sounds like a lot, we do get 20% of our liquids from the foods we eat.
Looking at the bigger picture, it’s important to consider the factors that play a role in your body’s water needs. In addition to nutrition and higher temperatures, think about your age, health and activity levels as well. As people age, their bodies require more water to regulate their body temperatures. Health conditions like diabetes, a high fever or side effects from medications might affect the loss of fluids or act as a diuretic. If you are more active and exercise throughout the day, you will need to drink more water.
Do you think you might be dehydrated?
Often, we are dehydrated before we even feel thirsty. It’s important to drink water even when we don’t feel like we need it, and helpful to know the spectrum of dehydration symptoms. Mild to moderate dehydration symptoms include tiredness, dry mouth, increased thirst, decreased urination, dry skin, constipation, dizziness/lightheadedness and headaches. Moderate to severe dehydration symptoms include extreme thirst, lack of sweat, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and breathing, dark colored urine, sunken eyes and shriveled skin.
When to Get Help
Seek emergency care if you are experiencing:
- Severe diarrhea
- Blood in stool
- 3+ days of diarrhea
- Inability to keep fluids down
You might need blood tests to test kidney function, check sodium, potassium and electrolyte levels. Some patients might need intravenous fluids.
Replenish fluid levels with water, clear broths, frozen water or ice pops, or sports drinks.
Prevention vs. Treatment
Being proactive is the best way to combat dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you. Keep fresh water on tables and nightstands. When you are craving a snack, have a glass of water first. Track your water consumption. Setting reminders might help to make the habit stick as well.
Thinking Outside of the Box
If water seems boring to you, try mixing it up:
- Green tea, mint and lime helps digestion, heals headaches.
- Cucumber, strawberry and kiwi supports blood sugar and digestion.
- Cucumber, lemon and lime improves hydration.
- Lime, orange and lemon boosts immunity.
Get an extra boost with foods high in water:
- Lettuce: 96% water
- Celery: 95% water
- Zucchini: 95% water
- Cabbage: 92% water
- Watermelon: 91% water
- Cantaloupe: 90% water
- Honeydew melon: 90% water
Don’t wait to feel thirsty! Get a personalized traveling cup to carry with you and form your hydration habits today. Learn about how Saint Francis LIFE helps seniors age 55 and older in New Castle County stay hydrated with support from our dieticians, medical team, and other support services. Call us at 302-660-3380. We’re located on the Wilmington Riverfront and NOW OPEN in Newark.