Once you begin to feel thirsty, you have already waited too long. Thirst is a signal that you’ve already lost about 1 percent of your body’s water content; however, thirst is not always a reliable indicator, especially in older adults.
As you age, your ability to conserve water is reduced and your sense of thirst becomes less acute. Chronic illnesses and the use of certain medications can compound the problem of dehydration. Signs of dehydration include excessive sweating, thirst, decreased urine output or dark colored urine, headache, fatigue, cramps and dizziness. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s time to take a rest, get out of the sun and rehydrate with water.
A good practice to follow is to “prehydrate.” When you’re planning to participate in golf, tennis, or any outdoor, start sufficient hydration before you go. Containers of watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes are great hydrating snacks that you can take with you. Beer and other alcoholic drinks are poor choices for fluid replacement and can actually contribute to dehydration. Soda does have a high water content, but caffeinated beverages can be problematic for some people. The best choice is water.
So what is the recommended daily intake for water? Some recommend the “8×8” rule: eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day. However, everyone’s body, activity level, and food intake (food contains fluids too) varies. The best advice is to consume enough fluids to meet your particular need.
More serious complications of becoming dehydrated can include:
- Heat Injury: This can be anything from mild heat exhaustion to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke can include lack of sweating, hot skin, nausea, vomiting, altered mental status and pulse changes.
- Seizures: Once electrolytes get out of balance, electrical messages become mixed up and can lead to involuntary muscle contractions or loss of consciousness.
Heat Injury and Seizures are medical emergencies. If you experience either condition, call 911 immediately.
- The average human brain is 75 percent water, and an average body is about about 60 water. Muscle contains more water than fat does.
- How does a giraffe drink water with an 8-foot-long neck? It lets water rush into its mouth and keeps its epiglottis closed, pumps its jaw, relaxes its epiglottis and, at some point, lifts its neck so water sluices into its stomach. Aren’t you glad we have shorter necks?
Mark your calendar for the Medical Center’s Annual “Fun-Raiser” March 20 and 21. Also, plan to attend Ladies and Men’s Night Out with Spine Specialist Dr. John Nordt on March 29. Check the Calendar of Events for details on these and other events happening at the Medical Center!