Have you been drinking enough, or do you need something more to wet your whistle? Over the past several months I’ve been talking a lot about chronic conditions or injuries, but with the long hot summer days upon us, I feel it’s important to discuss hydration. Let’s get into the importance of staying hydrated and the signs and symptoms that this need isn’t being met.
I’ve had several patients coming into the office with fatigue as their number one complaint. One patient in particular is a 73-year-old male runner, who runs for both exercise and competition. We’ll refer to him as Mr. R. He is currently running 10+ miles a day in preparation for a 26-day hike on the Appalachian Trail at the end of this month. Wowza! Go Mr. R.!
“After running my 10+ miles I usually have more energy and stamina, but lately I just feel fatigued and tired a lot,” he told me. After a brief overview, I knew Mr. R. was suffering from something simple, yet insidious…dehydration.
WHAT IS DEHYDRATION & WHAT CAUSES IT
Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough fluid or by losing more fluid than you take in. Fluid is lost through sweat, tears, vomiting, urine or diarrhea. The severity of dehydration can depend on factors like climate, level of physical activity and diet. There are many causes, but one that we Floridians need to pay close attention to is sweating.
You don’t have to be running 10+ miles a day to find yourself sweating a lot. Simply engaging in manual work in the yard or just being out in the summer sun for any length of time can cause you to perspire. It’s perfectly ok to sweat. It’s nature’s way of cooling you off. We just have to remember to replenish this water loss.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEHYDRATION
A few signs and symptoms to watch for, include increased thirst, FATIGUE, dizziness, headaches, dark/decreased urine, sticky/dry mouth, loss of skin elasticity, irritability and rapid heartbeat. Most of us associate increased thirst with the need to hydrate, but fatigue is usually overlooked or attributed to something else.
DEHYDRATION FACTS AND TIPS
- Over half of our body is made of water.
- At least 3 out of 4 people are dehydrated daily.
- Dehydration promotes inflammation, arthritis, weight gain, high blood pressure and swollen ankles.
- Caffeine and alcohol can make dehydration more likely, so moderation is key.
WHAT TO DO
It’s simple. Avoid dehydration and the fatigue that comes with it by drinking enough water. Most experts agree that men should be drinking 15 cups of water per day, and women should be drinking 11. In general, drinking between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh on a daily basis, should do the trick. If you weigh 150 pounds, you would want to drink 75-150 ounces of water a day. Also, know the warning signs of dehydration, pay attention to your body and be aware of your daily water intake.
P.S. While on the topic of reminders, don’t forget your sunscreen!