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(De) Hydration: What You Need to Know

questions that answer what you need to know about dehydration

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4 Questions That Answer What You Need to Know About Dehydration

Water works hard for your body. It maintains your internal body temperature, removes waste products and keeps joints lubricated. So what happens when the well runs dry? Dehydration.

Dehydration happens when the body loses more water than it takes in. Some reports indicate that more than 75% of Americans don’t drink the daily requirement of water, and many people only drink something when they become thirsty.

Your body is a finely tuned machine. Water makes it work as it should, from skin to organs, and even a slight drop in hydration can have an impact.

1. How Hydrated Are You Really?

There are numerous recommendations on how much one should drink to stay hydrated. Some experts say six to eight glasses of water a day. Others say more or less depending on body size. A good rule of thumb is to check the appearance of your urine. Light-colored or pale yellow urine shows you’re well hydrated. If your urine is darkly colored, it’s a sign of dehydration.

Medications can also affect your level of hydration. Certain antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, laxatives, diuretics and chemotherapies can cause dehydration.

Your physician can perform blood tests and a urine analysis to determine the extent of dehydration and what may need to be done to boost your hydration levels again.

2. What Does Dehydration Feel Like?

Dehydration can affect you in many ways. Some symptoms include:
  • Thirst
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Dark urine
  • Lack of tears

Children can present symptoms in a variety of different ways. For some kids, a fever, diarrhea, vomiting or profuse sweating are markers of dehydration. Others may also have a dry mouth, no tears and the appearance of sunken eyes. Fatigue and a lack of urine are also signs of dehydration in children.

3. Who Should Drink What to Rehydrate?

Hydration has no age restrictions, but the fluids that are most appropriate and helpful can vary depending on the body’s development.

Infants

Babies should rehydrate differently, increasing the amount of bottles they get, and possibly adding an oral rehydration solution as well, if your physician feels your child still isn’t getting enough fluids. Children under six months shouldn’t drink water. If dehydration is suspected, immediately contact your physician, as infant dehydration can become a serious health issue or be an indicator of some other health concern.

Kids of All Ages

Kids should drink water or milk, which contains protein, vitamin D and calcium. If your kid is lactose-intolerant, they can also have a milk alternative, such as soy, coconut or almond milk.

Kids should avoid sports drinks, unless they’re actively playing sports. A 20-ounce bottle contains almost eight teaspoons of sugar. Kids lose a lot of water playing sports, so sports drinks can replace many needed minerals like electrolytes.

Adults

If you feel dehydrated, take a break to relax for a bit and rehydrate. Water, juice or sports drinks can help, replacing necessary fluids and minerals.

4. Is it Dehydration or Something Else?

Many people may think they’re simply dehydrated when they are actually experiencing symptoms of another medical condition. How can you tell the difference? For one thing, dehydration is usually a singular event, whereas symptoms of other conditions may be recurring.

Some medical causes of dehydration include:
  • Flu. If you have the flu, you may also have vomiting or diarrhea, which can make you dehydrated.
  • Diabetes. In the early stages of diabetes, one of the first symptoms is excessive thirst, due to high blood glucose levels. When you have diabetes, your body tries to get rid of the excess glucose, which can lead to dehydration, as the frequency of urination increases.
  • Anemia. Anemia can present itself with symptoms of weakness, dizziness and confusion, which are also signs of extreme dehydration.

If you have severe cravings for water or are exhibiting signs of dehydration, contact your physician to determine the cause.

Water is vital to your body’s well-being and it’s the best, healthy beverage out there. So drink up – it’ll do your body good.

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