“Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.” – Mayo Clinic
When the temperatures heat up and you are subject to the heat, whether its through sports, enjoying the sun, traveling or simply sitting in the sun, it is crucial to make sure you get enough hydrating fluids.
How Hydration is Critical to Your Heart’s Health
Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart better pump blood throughout your body and to your muscles. Adequate blood supply is important for your muscles to work efficiently. Our heart is one of the most important muscles in the body, so staying sufficiently hydrated supports a healthier heart. When you are hydrated, your heart does not have to pump as hard, which means you will have more energy and feel better overall.
Dehydration can be a serious condition to many complications, including life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.
Symptoms of Dehydration
The symptoms of dehydration differ based on age.
Infant or young child
- Dry mouth and tongue
- No tears when crying
- No wet diapers for three hours
- Sunken eyes, cheeks
- Sunken soft spot on top of skull
- Listlessness or irritability
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
If you or someone close to you experiences issues such as long-term diarrhea (more than 24 hours), can’t keep fluids down or has a bloody or black stool, it is a good idea to seek medical assistance to prevent dehydration. Additionally, if someone experiences dizziness or confusion, they should be seen as soo as possible to avoid serious complications due to dehydration.
Some Common Causes of Dehydration
- Failure to drink enough hydrating fluids
- Illness with diarrhea and/or vomiting
- Excessive Fever
- Excessive Sweating
- Increased Urination
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Every day you lose water naturally through perspiration and other bodily functions. For your body to function properly, you need to regularly hydrate by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.
Source: Mayo Clinic
When they are exposed to the heat, drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. When you know you will be exercising or spending time in the sun, it is best to drink water beforehand. The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration of exercise. Furthermore, a person who sweats heavily will need to drink more. Additionally, avoid fruit juices, sugary drinks and caffeine when you are exposed to heat.