It’s officially Spring, and that means that soon the weather is going to start getting warmer and warmer. As the seasons change and everything starts to get humid and warm (or dry and warm depending on where you are) you need to be sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids (which you should be doing no matter what the season, but you get our point.)
So, we’ve got some tips for you on how to recognize when you might be experiencing dehydration without even realizing it.
You know you’re at risk for dehydration after playing sports on a hot day or when you’ve been sick with a stomach virus, but dehydration can happen to anyone in any health condition, in any weather who’s not careful to drink enough. Even mild dehydration has negative effects on your health and if not treated, severe dehydration can lead to heart palpitations, seizures, blood clots, and eventually death. That’s why we’re so adamant about our boot campers drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercising.
An overwhelming two-thirds of your body is made up of water. Don’t get enough H20 in your system, and dehydration sets in, causing your body to no longer function properly. Mild dehydration is easily treated by drinking water, but don’t let it get beyond this point or you’ll be in a world of trouble.
Here are a few obvious and not so obvious signs of dehydration.
Don’t ignore your feelings of thirst. Losing one to two percent of your body’s water will make you thirsty. You don’t necessarily have to be doing anything for this feeling to hit you, either. Even sleeping with your window open can cause you to wake up thirsty. If your mouth feels dry or sticky or your tongue feels parched or swollen, take this as a clear sign you need to replenish your fluids.
You remember brushing and flossing this morning so why does your breath smell so foul? A common cause of bad breath is dehydration. Without enough body fluids, your mouth isn’t able to produce enough saliva and bacteria begin to build up. So by drinking water you can save on dental bills AND worrying about how your breath smells won’t ruin your date. Sip on a water bottle throughout the day to ward off stinky breath.
Can’t seem to muster the energy to do your normal activities? Feelings of weakness, fatigue, or sluggishness are signs that your cells may be craving more water. This is why it’s so important to drink water before going to boot camp, otherwise you could end up harming yourself because your body isn’t working at maximum efficiency. Drink a glass of ice water and see if your energy returns.
Dizziness or Fainting
Lightheadedness, dizziness, or passing out are all signs of dehydration. Without enough fluid in your blood, your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and you’re at risk for fainting. If your vision is getting spotty or you’re seeing a lot of twisting hallways, be sure to sit down and catch your breath, then drink some water and see if that does the trick!
Decrease in Bodily Fluids
Notice you’re not using the bathroom as often and when you do go, your pee is darker than usual? Or have you sensed you’re not sweating as much as normal? These are two obvious signs you could very well be dehydrated. Sweating is your body’s way of keeping cool when it’s hot or when you’re exercising. You need to make sure you’re sweating the right amount otherwise you could get overheated and pass out, and that’s the last thing we want. The color of your urine is a good indicator of your body’s fluid levels. Light yellow or clear is ideal. If your urine is a dark color, take it as a sign you need to drink more throughout the day.
A lack of blood volume can lead to dry or flushed-looking skin. When you stop sweating as much, your skin lacks moisture (see, that sweat is important!) Remember, you don’t have to be outside on hot day to get dehydrated. It can happen while you’re sitting at home on a cold day if you’re not drinking enough. Before lathering on lotion, stop and take a big drink of water.
A headache may be a sign you’re not drinking enough water. Your brain is surrounded by fluids! If those fluids are running low, the increased pressure may cause a headache. Instead of reaching for the pain reliever medication, drink a big glass of water and lie down for a few minutes. You may find that your headache goes away easily, and you just saved your liver the work.
As dehydration progresses, it can become an emergency medical situation. Seek help immediately if you become irritable, delirious, or confused; your eyes look sunken in; your skin loses its elasticity; you experience a drop in blood pressure; your breathing and heartbeat increase; or you develop a sudden fever.
It’s recommended that you drink half a gallon of water every day. To break that down, that’s 2 liters, or eight 8-ounce glasses. Find a way to keep track of your fluid intake until you become used to drinking enough water. And remember, this is the recommended amount, but if you’re exercising or doing a lot of outside work in the sun you should definitely be drinking more.