Backyard barbecues, beach trips, and long days by the pool may be at the forefront of your mind this summer, but where does hydration fall on your priority list?
While these summer activities are fun, they can become dangerous if you don’t drink water throughout your day.
“Hydration is important at all times, but especially in these hot summer months, and this is due to volume loss from sweating,” said Nadia Nasser, a physician at Family Care Center of Mooresville.
When it’s hot outside, your body starts to sweat as a way to cool itself down. To stay hydrated this summer, you need to be sure you take in as much fluid as you lose.
Importance of Water
Since your body is around 60% water, you obviously cannot live without it — it keeps your body functioning properly.
According to Nasser, there are several benefits of drinking water, such as:
- Carrying oxygen to your cells
- Allowing kidneys to flush out bacteria via your bladder
- Aiding in digestion
- Maintaining homeostasis of your vital organs and electrolyte balance
- Regulating body temperature
- Lubricating your joints
Water is essential to almost all of your bodily functions. If you do not drink enough water and replace the fluids you lost, you can become dehydrated.
Dangers of Dehydration
According to Nasser, there are many ways you can become dehydrated. For example, dehydration can occur from vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, medication such as diuretics, intestinal obstruction, burns, or sweating.
The signs and symptoms of dehydration differ, but the most common include thirst, fatigue, muscle cramps, and dizziness when standing up. According to Nasser, more severe signs of dehydration may include abdominal pain, chest pain, mental status changes such as confusion, and low urine output or low volume.
Dehydration can be serious and even life-threatening. It can put you at risk for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
One of the more severe complications, dehydration can lead to hypovolemic shock. Hypovolemia occurs when your body loses fluid, like blood or water.
“As the degree of hypovolemia becomes more severe, it will cause decreased perfusion (passage of fluid) to vital organs leading to hypovolemic shock, electrolyte derangements, acute kidney injury, seizures, or coma,” she said.
Many of us drink water when we feel thirsty. However, thirst should not be a guide to your body’s need for water.
“As we grow older, we tend to lose the sense of being thirsty, which is a common finding in the elderly population. This loss of sense of thirst could cause problems with volume depletion causing dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities,” said Nasser.
To stay healthy and hydrated, you may need to do more than just quench your thirst.
According to Nasser, healthy people should drink 4-6 cups of water a day. However, water intake is individualized.
“Your water intake amount changes if you have comorbidities such as heart failure, thyroid, or kidney problems. You should speak with your doctor about what amount works for you,” said Nasser.
Even a healthy person’s water intake may change if they are sweating heavily. According to Nasser, if you are sweating more than usual, you should drink 2-3 cups each hour to avoid dehydration.
Your overall, total water intake should come from a variety of beverages and foods. Broth soups, juices, and foods with a high water content — like salads, celery, tomatoes, and melons — can also aid in hydration.
“In addition to water, you can drink sparkling water, milk, electrolyte replacement drinks, teas (black, green, or chamomile teas), hot or iced coffee, sports drinks such as Gatorade, fruit or vegetable juice (watch the sugar content) and diet soda, in moderation,” she said.
To stay hydrated, Nasser recommends carrying a 1-liter water bottle to take with you to work, school, the gym, or to outdoor activities. You should also drink water with your meals and at social events.
Nasser practices at Family Care Center of Mooresville, located at 653 Bluefield Road on the second floor of the Iredell Mooresville facility. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nadia Nasser, please call 704-360-6480.