Hydrate for Health

Did you know that nearly 75 percent of Americans are in a state of chronic dehydration?

Dehydration can happen at any age, but conditions can be particularly dangerous for infants, young children and older adults. People who lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising, and those with long-term health conditions like diabetes or alcoholism are particularly at risk. It’s best to avoid drinking large amounts of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, and eating salty foods. “For those with diabetes, hydrating with liquids such as milk and fruit juice will increase blood sugar significantly,” said Dr. Stephen M. Scott with Brown Medicine’s Division of Primary Care, Warwick. To avoid any complications, consider alternatives such as water, seltzers or sugar-free beverages.

The general rule of thumb is, if you are thirsty that means you are already dehydrated! Even mild dehydration can put stress on cognitive functioning causing foggy memory, irritability, lack of concentration, and anxiety.

The number one cause of mid-day fatigue is dehydration.
Although mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed by staying properly hydrated by drinking enough water and fluids to replace your electrolytes, more severe conditions need immediate medical treatment.

Why water?
Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 50% to 70% of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive. Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements.

Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For example, water:
• Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements

• Keeps your temperature normal
• Lubricates and cushions joints
• Protects sensitive tissues

Adults should be drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods high in water, like fruits and vegetables, throughout the day. Natural fruit juice is helpful as are drinks that replace electrolytes. Infants and small children should not be given large amounts of water because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body and lead to other problems. Instead, a rehydration solution available at pharmacies is best.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (124 oz) of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups (92 oz) 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.

If left untreated, dehydration can result in complications like:
• Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke
• Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and kidney failure
• Seizures from an imbalance of electrolytes
• Hypovolemic shock, which results from a drop in low blood pressure and a decline of the amount of oxygen in the body
Although dehydration is treatable, it can become severe. Seek medical treatment from your Brown Medicine provider if you:
• Have had diarrhea for 24 hours or more
• Are irritable or disoriented
• Can’t keep down fluids
• Have a bloody or black stool
• Have not passed urine for eight hours
• Experience rapid heartbeat
• Have dizziness that doesn’t go away after a few seconds after you stand up

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Medical Daily, dripdrop.com