Lilacs & Greensleeves: Preventing Dehydration
“Everyone needs water to survive. Water delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells throughout our bodies. It protects and moistens organs and tissue, and carries wastes out of the body. Water also controls body temperature by making sweat to cool you down when you become hot. Our bodies lose fluids every day through urination, perspiration, and even when we breathe. These fluids need to be replaced. While every person’s body is different, most adults should drink about 8 glasses (1 glass = 8 ounces) of fluids every day, and most children over age four should drink about 6-10 glasses every day.
What is dehydration?
When your body does not have enough water or liquid, it cannot work the way it should. This is called dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses liquid more quickly than it is replaced. This can happen as a result of:
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Increased perspiration caused by fever, exercise, or hot and humid weather
- Drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that increase urination (coffee, tea, or soda)
- Taking certain medications that increase urination (diuretics, antihistamines or blood pressure medications)
- Bladder infections or urinary tract infections
- Eating certain foods (especially salty foods or broths)
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- The same things that commonly cause dehydration – diarrhea, vomiting, and increased sweating or urination – also cause your body to lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are salts and minerals (including sodium, potassium and chloride) that dissolve in your blood. A proper balance of electrolytes is necessary for cells, organs and the nervous system to function properly. Losing electrolytes during dehydration can cause your blood pressure to drop, and make you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
How can I tell if someone is dehydrated?
Symptoms of dehydration can be mild or severe. If someone is dehydrated, he or she may experience:
- Dizziness, especially when moving or standing up
- A dry, sticky mouth
- Less frequent urination
- Dark urine
- An inability to produce sweat or tears
- Sunken eyes
- Dry, shriveled skin
- Sleepiness, tiredness or confusion
Unfortunately, thirst isn’t always the best gauge of the body’s need for water, especially in children or older adults. The color of a person’s urine may be a better indicator. Clear or light-colored urine usually means that a person is well-hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color signals they are not drinking enough water.
What should I do if someone I support is dehydrated?”
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