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On June 23rd, the nation will take a day to create awareness on why it is important to stay hydrated and how to recognize the signs of dehydration. If you think you don’t have an issue, think again. According to statistics, 75% of the American public doesn’t drink the recommended amount of water every day, potentially leading to the development of kidney stones, digestive malfunctions, cognitive decline, and signs of premature aging. Adequate hydration is important because the body is about 90% water. Few realize the dangers of even mild dehydration, so a national day of awareness is crucial.
More Than Feeling Thirsty
If you have waited until you feel thirsty to get a drink, your body has already started to dehydrate. Your body can lose water without excessive exercise or excessive sweating. Breathing sweating, and urinating throughout the day start to deplete your body’s store of water. It may be a subtle decline, but failing to replace what is lost start the dehydration responses. Your blood becomes more concentrated, which in turn causes your heart rate to go up to keep up your blood pressure. It also causes the body to hold onto water, triggering your kidneys to slow down or shut down completely. Symptoms can then move on to range from mild to severe conditions of unconsciousness.
Failing to Urinate
As your fluid loss moves from move a mild condition to one that is more severe, you will notice significant changes in your mental and physical abilities. These require immediate attention if they are going to be reversed. One of the simplest tests of dehydration is checking the color of your urine. Normal colors should be almost clear or as a light lemonade. Dark urine, close to the color of apple juice is could indicate the moderate to severe dehydration has set in. If you aren’t urinating at all, the situation has turned serious. Immediately start to drink more water, taking small slips to let the body absorb it better. Gulping down large glasses of water will only cause your kidneys to quickly expel it.
Reduced Skin Elasticity
In addition to checking the color of your urine, you can also perform a quick skin test to let you know if you are in need of water. All you have to do is pinch the skin on the top of your hand. It should bounce back into place, so any slow movement back into position could indicate that you are mildly dehydrated. If your skin sticks together and forms a tent-like position, you are headed toward serious dehydration problems. Just like with a condition of dark urine, your need to increase your water intake immediately. Water is always the number one recommendation, but after intense weight loss workouts or activities where you have lost a lot of sweat, you can try a rehydrating drink. Sports drinks like Gatorade or coconut water can replenish your liquid levels with electrolytes and additional nutrition. For issues with your skin tenting, you should contact your healthcare provider, as it may require IV fluids for treatment.
Rapid Breathing and Racing Heart
You lose a lot of water when you are working out, and it is natural for your heartbeat and breathing to quicken. However, an increased heart rate and rapid breathing that don't go away after you have spent time cooling down or that occurs when you haven’t been working out could indicate severe dehydration. When your body has been depleted of electrolytes, it impacts the heart's ability to pump blood. Immediate fluid intake is crucial for vital organs like the lungs, kidneys, heart, and liver to function normally. Visit your doctor to determine if dehydration is causing these symptoms and if so, you will probably be given intravenous fluid that will deliver a water, salt, and sugar solution throughout the body.
Your brain is composed of 73% water, so a drop in fluid levels can lead to cognitive difficulties. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded and feeling like you are in a fog could mean you are severely dehydrated. These are not symptoms you should take lightly. Eating a diet of water-filled foods like strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, and grapes can help your body not get this far, but rehydrate yourself through slow sips of water every few minutes. If your dehydration has led to severe confusion where you don’t know where you are or what you are doing, have someone take you to the emergency room for examination.
Rather than waiting for a sign that something is going wrong, making drinking water an important part of your daily routine. Just like the HCG diet has a mealtime strategy, create a strategy that helps you drink enough water throughout the day.
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