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First Aid for Dehydration

 iStock_000015080090XSmall_drinking water

Each day, most of us are mildly dehydrated without even knowing it.

Just think about it: during the workday is there ever a time in the afternoon that you start to get very, very sleepy? Well, according to Camelbak and the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, dehydration is the #1 cause of afternoon fatigue, especially during the summer.

With temperatures reaching 100 degrees or higher, I’ve found myself getting tired at 2:00 in the afternoon and drinking more Root Beers, Slurpees, and Sonic Cream Slushes than water to battle the heat. And it’s taken its toll, especially because I didn’t realize that dehydration was to blame.

I’ve had headaches and been dizzy, moody and tired, always thinking that something else was wrong and never thinking that the solution could be as simple as drinking more water.

What Causes Dehydration?

Many people think that not drinking enough water is the cause of dehydration. However, not drinking enough water is only part of the reason why a person could become dehydrated.

  • Our bodies are made up of 70% water
  • Each day we typically lose a portion of that water from urination, bowel movements, sweat, and tears
  • The problem comes when we don’t replace the water we are losing, causing our body’s water percentage to decrease

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center suggests that when we lose water, we also lose salt and electrolytes in our systems that are vital to life. This combination of the loss of salt and water causes dehydration.

How do you recognize dehydration? What are the signs and symptoms?

For Adults:

  • Thirst/dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dark urine or urinating less frequently (maybe one or two times a day)
  • Sleepiness
  • Constipation
  • Little to no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle cramps (especially during exercise)

For Children:

  • Lack of urine or wet diapers for 6-8 hours (lack of urine for 12 hours in older children)
  • Little to no tears when crying
  • Eyes look sunken into head
  • Soft spot on baby’s head looks sunken
  • Irritability, less active
  • Fatigue or dizziness in older children

What should you do if you are dehydrated?

  • Rehydrate, of course! Mild dehydration can be easily treated at home by drinking more water.
  • Drink water or sports drinks (sports drinks can replace electrolytes, salt lost through sweating and other water loss).
  • According to the Institute of Medicine, Men should drink 13 glasses of water a day (about 3 liters) and women should drink about 9 glasses a day (about 2.2 liters)

Many of us have heard the 8x8 rule: drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. However, this advice isn’t supported by hard scientific evidence. But it is close to the recommended amount of water we should drink and is easy to remember. That’s why it sticks around, but we should be drinking more water than the 8x8.

When should you seek medical attention for dehydration?

In extreme cases, seek medical attention for dehydration. Symptoms of severe dehydration are as follows:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extremely dry mouth, skin, and mucous membranes (nose, mouth, throat, eyelids, ears )
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lack of sweat when active
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled or dry skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • Delirium or unconsciousness (in extreme cases)

However, according to recent studies conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, even mild dehydration can cause big problems such as mood changes, memory impairment, headaches, and constipation.  Be on a look out for these changes as well.

 How can you avoid getting into the dehydration danger zone in the first place?

  • Right when you get up in the morning, drink a glass of water.
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal.

Have a water bottle on your desk at work (or in your bag at school). Seeing the bottle will help you stay hydrated. For more tips on how to stay hydrated watch these tips for how to Feel “A Little Bit Better” with water!!



Camelbak video: Tips for staying hydrated











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