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Causes And Warning Signs Of Dehydration

As temperatures soar, it’s important to drink plenty of water, especially if you’re outside and participating in activities. Dehydration, the loss of more water than you’re taking in, is a serious health risk during the summer months. But did you know that it can be a concern year round?

Not getting enough fluids is a primary cause of dehydration but it isn’t the only one. Illnesses that include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or sweating is another meaning winter colds and flu can affect whether you are properly hydrated or not. Medications that increase urination, including some antihistamines and blood pressure medications, can also cause dehydration.

People with chronic illnesses that affect kidney function, such as diabetes, and the elderly are at high risk for dehydration.  Our bodies do not hold on to the water we take in as well as they once did and the sense of thirst diminishes as well.  Often, by the time we feel thirsty we may have already lost too much water in our system.

Warning Signs

Thirst is not the only indicator of lack of water in our bodies. The color of urine is actually the better indicator of hydration. It should be clear or light yellow, not dark.  Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dark or amber-colored urine
  • Little or no urine
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Irritability, dizziness, or confusion

So how can you prevent dehydration?  Most adults need about two quarts of fluids every day, but that amount varies with body size, heat and humidity, activity level, medications, and other factors.

There are a number of ways to remain properly hydrated. For many, drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods with high water content is enough.  Foods that contain a lot of water include:

  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon
  • Bell Pepper
  • Grapes
  • Canteloupe
  • Orange
  • Blueberry
  • Apple

If you find that you still experience some of the symptoms listed above, consider these things:

  • At the first sign of illness, including a cold, increase your water intake.
  • Avoid fruit juice if dehydration is caused by diarrhea, as well as sodas or caffeinated beverages.
  • When it’s hot or humid outside, drink additional water to keep your body cool and hydrated.
  • During the winter, increase fluids to help keep mucous membranes moist.