In the summer months, dehydration easily can be at the forefront of your mind. But as the hot summer days turn to brisk mornings and wet weather of fall, staying hydrated can become an afterthought. Many of us forget to keep up with a proper hydration routine, resulting in dehydration.
Dehydration is a sign that the body does not have sufficient fluids to carry out its normal functions and literally has dried out. Common causes of dehydration include intense diarrhea, vomiting, fever due to illness, and excessive sweating. Anyone can become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. Mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. Prevent dehydration safely by keeping these tips in mind:
• Drink plenty of fluids year round, not only during hot summer months. Extra water may be needed in cold weather if you sweat while wearing insulated clothing. Heated indoor air can also cause moisture loss.
• Let your thirst be your guide. Water is an important nutrient for the body, but everyone has different needs. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.
• Fluids can be obtained from beverages and foods other than water. If you choose teas, pick herbal and limit caffeinated beverages.
• Eat foods that have high water content, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
• If you become ill, increase fluid intake at the first sign.
• Monitor quantity and color of your urine. Producing lots of clear, diluted urine is a good indication that that you're well hydrated.
Remember, hydration is not only a summer issue. Make it a daily routine to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to get you through the day.
Huerta-Camara, MPH, is manager of the community health education department at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.