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Published on July 21, 2016

Wet Your Whistle

As a registered dietitian, I would like to think I know a lot about nutrition. But at the same time, I struggle with drinking enough water each day.

How about you? Because water is so simple and readily available, it is often overlooked when it comes to your health. Here are some fun facts about why we need to worry more about drinking enough.

First, your body is mostly made up of water. Our bodies use water for a whole host of reasons, such as regulating temperature, protecting organs and tissues and to help transport nutrients and oxygen around the body.

Second, you can only live a couple days without any type of water or hydration. In excessive heat during physically demanding work, you can actually die within hours if you become dehydrated and are not drinking any fluids. That’s especially important since now that summer is in full swing you are at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated.

So let’s test your knowledge first about dehydration. Then go over how to avoid it.

  1. How quickly can you become dehydrated in hot, humid weather?
    1. 15 minutes
    2. 30 Minutes
    3. 45 minutes
    4. 1 hour
  2. How often should you stop and drink during exercise or working outside?
    1. Every hour
    2. Every 2 hours
    3. Every 45 minutes
    4. Every 20 minutes
  3. Which drink will dehydrate you the most?
    1. Alcohol
    2. Sports-drinks
    3. Sugary punches and juices
    4. Soda
  4. Which factor does NOT affect how much fluid you need?
    1. Age
    2. Weather
    3. Your health/medical conditions
    4. Height
  5. You can tell you are hydrated if your urine looks like…
    1. Apple juice
    2. Coke
    3. Lemonade
    4. Water
  6. Which is not a sign of being dehydrated?
    1. Thirst
    2. Food cravings
    3. Muscle cramps
    4. Excessive sweating
  7. Around what percentage of people do not meet their daily fluid needs?
    1. 50%
    2. 60%
    3. 75%
    4. 95%

How do you think you did? Here are the answers: 1 – B, 2 – D, 3 – A, 4 – D, 5 – C, 6 – D, 7 – C

The best thing about dehydration is that it is completely preventable. All you have to do is make sure to drink enough fluids each day and replace fluids lost during any physical activity. The average adult needs 8 to 12 cups of fluids a day to stay hydrated (1 cup = 8 ounces). Children between the ages of 4 and 18 years old need 5 to 6 cups a day and children 1 to 3 years old need around 4 cups a day.

During the summer, you can become dehydrated quickly during hot and humid days. Signs you might be dehydrated include feeling thirsty, weakness, dry mouth, dizziness, feeling of racing or jumping heart (palpitations), confusion, fatigue/sluggishness, decreased urine output or decreased sweating.

To avoid becoming dehydrated while working outside or enjoying the warm weather, try to stop and drink every 20 minutes. It is best to stick with water and you should turn to sports drinks only if you have to be outside for a prolonged time (more than two hours) performing intensive physical activities.

While you should try to avoid becoming dehydrated, it is important to know its warning signs and when to seek medical care. Extreme dehydration can be deadly. If you or anyone you are with experiences a fever over 103 degrees F, confusion, seizure, difficulty or rapid breathing, rapid pulse or haven’t urinated in the past 12 hours, you should go to the nearest emergency room.

Drink up!

Emily Wilson is a registered and licensed dietitian at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. She has her bachelor’s and master’s of science in dietetics from Ball State University. In the summer she loves spending time at Rough River Lake skiing, reading and relaxing.

This article originally appeared in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering and the only hospital in the world to be designated a Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International, Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprising over 180 providers in 25 locations, a certified medical fitness facility, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center. Owensboro Health has been recognized for outstanding care, safety and clinical excellence by The Joint Commission, U.S. News & World Report and Becker’s Hospital Review. As the largest employer west of Louisville, Owensboro Health has 4,088 employees, and in FY 2015 saw 18,380 inpatient admissions and 823,072 outpatient encounters. A committed community partner, Owensboro Health provided grants of $702,924 in the last year to health, social service, education and arts agencies across the region. For more information, visit owensborohealth.org.

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