Staying hydrated is necessary for good health. Dehydration can lead to serious medical complications such as urinary and kidney problems, low blood volume, and heat exhaustion. Yet over 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed most American adults only drink about 39 ounces (less than 5 glasses) of water per day.
Signs of Dehydration
Signs of dehydration include thirst, headaches, muscle cramps, dry mouth and decreased urine output. If you are tired or lightheaded, have dark yellow urine or urine that smells strong, dry lips and eyes, or are urinating three times a day or fewer, you may be dehydrated.
Diarrhea, vomiting, and heavy sweating can contribute to dehydration, while drinking plenty of fluids can help you rehydrate. Severe dehydration can cause sunken eyes, dry skin, low blood pressure and increased heart rate. Those with severe dehydration may stop sweating and even become unconscious.
There is a general recommendation to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Your needs may vary depending on your size and lifestyle. If you are active or live in a warm climate, you need to consume more water.
It is possible to drink too much water if you have conditions such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver or heart problems. Consult your doctor to determine the best amount of water for you.
Tips to Increase Fluids
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Fruits and vegetables have high water content and can help you stay hydrated. Good options include strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, celery, spinach and lettuce.
- Track your hydration.
Make a note of how much water you drink throughout the day. You can use a journal or your phone to keep track.
- Carry a reusable bottle of water with you.
Keeping a reusable water bottle with you can help you drink more water. Keep it with you in the car, at appointments and when traveling so you always have water nearby.
- Flavor your water. Add slices of cucumbers, lemon or strawberries to flavor your water. Enjoying the taste can help you consume water more throughout the day.
Water is Fuel
The adult human body is made of up to 60 percent water. Water helps our digestion, protects vital organs and regulates our body temperature. Drink water instead of soda or juice, which contain sugar and calories and can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration can occur in the winter as easily as in the summer, so drink plenty of water year-round.