Hydration – why it is so important?

Warmer weather is upon us and with it comes blue skies, sunshine, and fun activities outdoors. However, it can also increase a few risks – one of which is dehydration.

Dehydration can affect anyone – however, children and older adults are especially at risk. Mayo Clinic defines dehydration as, “when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you do not replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.”

Not having enough fluids can upset many of our body’s systems including the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, bones, and gastro-intestinal system. The fluid levels in our body can be impacted by certain medications, weight, age, level of activity, climate, and other factors. Being dehydrated can cause symptoms such as feeling tired, dry mouth, increased heart rate (but low blood pressure), loss of appetite, dizziness, headache, confusion, irritability, and constipation. Whew, that is a lot!

So, what can we do to prevent dehydration?

The main advice is to drink more water – even if you are not feeling thirsty. It is important to check with your doctor to see how much water will be helpful to you and to know if you are taking medications that may increase your risk of dehydration– especially if you have conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. If you are out in the heat or exercising, increase your hydration as sweating can also increase risk.

If choosing beverages other than water, be aware of concerns related to alcohol intake, high calories, caffeine, or high levels of sugar as these may cause other concerns. Also, eat foods that are higher in water content – such as soups, fruits, and vegetables.

Dehydration can be a very critical condition and may require immediate medical attention. Hydration should be taken seriously for our health and the health of those in our care!